It started out as a family sightseeing trip to Chicago, and ended as a nightmare when Kelly Davis chased down a man he says tried to kidnap his two-year-old daughter.
“We wanted take a nighttime adventure with our two daughters. We like to go to the city — it’s a nice place to see the tall buildings, the lights and the river,” Davis said. “And my oldest daughter loves the Picasso statue.” Davis and his children live in suburban Zion, Ill.
There is a slide at the base of the statue, which is located at Daley Plaza in the Chicago Loop. Davis said the girls were playing there when a man, who was later identified by police as James Gates, tried to grab Davis’ youngest daughter, Myla.
“We were playing on the Picasso and sliding and having fun,” Davis said. “And then I noticed that this guy was heading in our direction and his attention was focused our way.”
Davis said he wasn’t suspicious of Gates at first, but soon realized something was very wrong.
“It wasn’t too alarming because people will come up and ask for a cigarette or spare change or whatever. But as he got closer, I realized he wasn’t making eye contact with me and nothing to give me the feeling he is about to speak to me. And he gets even closer and I notice he has this fixation on my daughters.”
Davis said he put himself between his girls and the man who was closing in on them.
“I looked over and he was actually stepping up onto the statue and trying to reach around my left side and grab my daughter,” Davis said. “So I pushed him away and put my body between him and my daughter.”
Davis said his fiancee, Amanda Green, hurried the children to safety as Gates tried to attack him.
“This guy was in my face telling me that’s his daughter and her nickname is Goldilocks,” Davis said. “And I’m telling him to get the (expletive) away from my family, away from my daughter. And he’s being so persistent that it’s his daughter and trying to get through me to get to her.”
He said Gates then tried to attack him. Davis pulled back to dodge the punch, but was hit in the nose.
“The whole time I was just thinking, ‘there’s nothing this man can do to get past me to get my child,’” Davis said.
By then, a bystander had called the police.
“Then he just starts walking off, so I followed him,” Davis said. “My anger and adrenaline is running rampant.”
Davis said he followed Gates for about 25 minutes, down streets and alleyways, until the police came.
Gates was taken into custody and faces a felony charge of kidnapping with the threat of force and a misdemeanor battery charge, according to the Chicago Police Department.
David said the incident has had a lasting effect on him and his family.
“My two daughters, they’re still worried about us,” Davis said. “Myla was at the store the other day and someone came up to us and she said, ‘Bad man, bad man!’ She’s having trouble sleeping too…And I don’t think my fiancee and I are ever going to be not uptight in public.”
But in the end, Davis said he is thankful everyone is safe and hopes this incident will keep other children out of harm’s way.
“The police officers we dealt with, we’ve been so appreciative of them. I just hope that if he doesn’t plead guilty, that the jury or the judge finds him guilty based on all this information,” Davis said. “I hope he doesn’t have the opportunity to do this to anyone else.”