A Macon grandfather will spend at least several more days in jail waiting for bond to be set on his attempted kidnapping charge, which his son said is the result of a misunderstanding at Springdale Elementary School.
I dont know if its a crime for a grandparent to get his grandchildren, said Ugochukwu Ogoh, an Air Force veteran who said his father has been picking up his grandchildren every day at the school since August.
The man is in jail for no reason.
Maduabuchi Christian Ogoh had been expecting another try at a first appearance hearing in Magistrate Court on Monday, but his lawyer, Keith Fitzgerald of Macon, said hes working to get a Superior Court judge to set a bond Tuesday.
Language problems have complicated issues. Bibb County school police originally listed the suspects name as Christian Ogol. His son said his Nigerian passport lists his name incorrectly as Ogo, though it should be Ogoh. The Bibb County Sheriffs Office initially said the grandfather spoke only Swahili, when he speaks almost entirely a language called Igbo.
Ugochukwu Ogoh said his father had gone to Springdale Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon to pick up his grandchildren. Hes been walking them to school and walking them home since August, typically in the same clothes, so people know him.
The incident happened during school dismissal, around 3:45 p.m., in front of the school.
The younger Ogoh said his father had gone to the school to get the children when the youngest, age 4, broke his grandfathers grip on his backpack while the grandfather was looking for his eldest grandson.
My dad went after him so he could get them. So he saw another black kid. He thought he was my older son. (The boy) said, I dont know you, and took his hands off. Then the little kid ran inside school like somebody was trying to kidnap him or something, Ugochukwu Ogoh said.
He said his father let go as soon as he realized the other boy wasnt one of his grandsons.
The arrest warrant on the attempted kidnapping charge, signed by school police Capt. Ronald Rodgers, said the elder Ogoh did knowingly grab a 7 year old student as he exited the door of Springdale Elementary School. Ogoh also faces two charges of false imprisonment, which allege that he forced a 13-year-old girl to sit next to him by pulling her toward him, and grabbed the 7-year-old boy and began forcefully pulling him toward the parking lot away from the school. Ogoh also faces a charge of simple battery that alleges he grabbed the girls wrist twice, forcing her to sit next to him, and also put his hand in the childs hair.
A school police report said the suspect was said to have attempted to grab a male student as the student was exiting the school building.
Ugochukwu Ogoh said police didnt investigate the episode correctly.
The police did not interview my kids. They did not talk to my youngest son to get his side of the story, he said.
Since late Wednesday night, the eldest Ogoh has been in the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center. At a Thursday hearing, a judge said she could see him again in two weeks after they found a translator.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said his agency has access to translators, but in this case they didnt know where to start.
At 3 oclock in the morning, any language can be a challenge until you figure out who it is and what it is and what part of the world its from, Davis said. Its hard to call a translation service and say, Listen to this guy. Can you tell me what hes speaking?
Over the years, Davis said the jail has had to work with some languages that are widely spoken around the world, but arent common around here. He recalled Latvian, Russian dialects and some Cambodian variants.
Family members and a local doctor are helping Ogoh with translation now.
Fitzgerald, the eldest Ogohs attorney, said hes hopeful a Superior Court judge will set bond Tuesday to free a man who may be innocent.
I think this is a big misunderstanding, Fitzgerald said. I think when we get to the bottom of the facts, well see some reactions that were appropriate but misunderstood.
The mother of the boy who was grabbed, Patricia Thompson, told reporters that she practices protocols with her children so they know what to do in situations, such as when a stranger approaches them.
Maduabuchi Ogoh, a retired trader, had no ill intent, his son said.
I know my dad did not do this. He didnt come there to kidnap nobody. He didnt come there to hassle or do anything wrong, said Ugochukwu Ogoh, a 15-year resident of the area. He came there to pick up his grandkids.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.