Thomas Downs

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Man Accused of Trying to Kidnap Children

By Caitlyn Jones
By cjones@wbbjtv.com

Three Henderson County families said their typical camping trip nearly turned into their worst nightmare this weekend.

Three children ages 7 and 8 were out near the playground of Natchez Trace State Park when a man allegedly pulled up to them in an SUV. According to reports, the man asked the kids to come with him to set up a tent and told them he would give them a bike to ride. The children refused, however witnesses said he reached toward one child to try and pull her towards the car. A nearby woman said she saw the entire thing and intervened.

Police were able to find and arrest Thomas Gunnar Downs from Florida, and parents of the kids said this was an eye-opening close call.

"They all did really good about just sort of saying, 'no' and staying back from the vehicle. They didn't get too close...This could be a total different situation right now," said one of the mothers, Amy King.

Downs has been charged with attempted especially aggravated kidnapping and driving under the influence. He remains in the Henderson County Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bond.

Investigators said he has an extensive criminal history in five states, mainly for theft and robbery. He has no charges relating to sex crimes or child abduction.
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