Man freed from prison the day before attempted carjacking at Atlanta airport

A man freed from prison over the weekend is back behind bars after a failed carjacking and a purse snatching triggered a massive search at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Richard Donny Parham Jr., 37, was released from Georgia Department of Corrections custody Saturday, the day before he led police on a foot chase through the airport’s south parking deck. According to the state agency, the Atlanta man has served prior prison terms on convictions of robbery by snatching, aggravated assault and battery, among others.

Richard Donny Parham
Photo: Georgia Department of Corrections

Parham first tried to take a vehicle by force outside the lower level of the airport’s Terminal South, police said. A woman told Channel 2 Action News she had just stepped out of an Uber at the Delta curbside check-in when a man slid into the driver’s seat.

She recorded on her cellphone as the man, later identified as Parham, struggled to get the car in gear. In the video obtained by Channel 2, a Delta worker and other travelers tried to coax him out of the car before one traveler pulled him out onto the ground.

When officers assigned to the airport unit arrived, he had already run away. But Parham wasn’t done yet, according to Atlanta police. 

“Officers were able to locate the suspect who was still close by in the south parking deck,” police spokeswoman Officer Stephanie Brown said in a statement. “When the suspect was confronted, he took flight and committed another strong-arm robbery while in the presence of the officer by ripping a purse away from a Delta Air Lines passenger.”


Holding the passenger’s purse, the man continued running, she said. Eventually the officer lost sight of him.

A perimeter was established, and another officer found Parham hiding in the bed of a pickup truck parked in the south parking deck. 

“The officer was able to take the suspect into custody after a short struggle,” Brown said. 

Parham was arrested on charges of entering auto, criminal damage to property, battery, strong-arm robbery and criminal attempt to commit vehicle theft.

He is being held in the Clayton County Jail. 

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