“I just had a weird feeling about it,” Cody Byrd, 24, tells PEOPLE. “And I saw something potentially dangerous"

By Andrea Billups
January 31, 2020 04:37 PM
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Credit: WNCN

It was a typical morning for Greensboro, North Carolina, grad student Cody Byrd who had stopped off at a favorite spot, Biscuitville, to grab breakfast before work.

But as the North Carolina A & T computer science student sat at a table to eat a chicken biscuit, hash browns and orange juice, he watched a man sitting nearby stare intently at an 8-year-old girl who was eating at another table with her mother. The scene, he says, creeped him out.

“I just had a weird feeling about it,” Byrd, 24, tells PEOPLE. “And I saw something potentially dangerous.”

Byrd’s intuition served him well. Soon, he watched the man allegedly try to abduct the girl after she got up to visit the bathroom. He sprang into action to thwart the alleged kidnapping attempt — and for his quick thinking, he has been hailed as a hero and given free meals at Biscuitville for one year.

Finding himself watching a potential crime unfold was not what he expected that morning. “You know these types of things happen. You see them in media. But you never think that you might actually be in one of those situations. I just tried to do what was right,” he says.

Byrd, who works two jobs and is set to earn his master’s degree in computer science in May, said he pretended he was headed to the men’s room and followed the alleged abductor who waited for the girl to come out of the bathroom. Byrd pretended to enter the men’s room, but constantly kept his eye on the women’s room door.

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Sure enough, as the girl exited, “He lunged at her, trying to grab her. She let out a little yelp and she dodged him and ran off back to her mom,” Byrd alleges. “I asked him, ‘What are you doing? Do you know her?’ That is when he got kind of nervous — he said something about he was trying to send a message. I’m not sure what he meant by it.”

Byrd left the man to go back to check on the girl and her grateful mother, who was shaken.

He later followed the man out of the restaurant, snapping cell phone pictures of his truck and license plate. Within 30 minutes of Byrd’s 911 call, Greensboro police arrested Timothy Jon Fry, 55, of Greensboro. They charged him with attempted first-degree kidnapping and indecent liberties. He remains in the Guilford County Jail on a $300,000 bond.

It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea or retained an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Ronald Glenn, public information office at the Greensboro Police Department, lauded Byrd’s engagement as a good Samaritan. “It’s important when we talk about trying to improve safety in the community that it’s not just a police issue — it’s a community issue. When a community member is that aware and steps up to get involved, it makes everyone safer.“