Shelly Clark was walking in a Charlotte, North Carolina neighborhood with her 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son Sunday when her son was grabbed in an apparent prank.
"On the sidewalk was a young man and a young lady and a baby in a stroller," Clark said.
Clark said the family was taking up most of the sidewalk, so they had to go around them in a single-file line.
They were passing the couple and Clark noticed the man pick up his cellphone and start recording what seemed like a video or Facebook Live. She said her children were behind her to get around him and told them to avoid getting in his shot. Then she heard the man say something that caused her to turn back around.
"I hear the word 'kidnapped' and as I turn, when I hear the word ‘kidnapped,’ I see him grab my son in a bear hug and he literally starts running down the street," Clark said. "My daughter is then running after him, holding onto my son's leg and trying to beat on the guy."
Clark started running after them.
"When I reach him, he drops my son on the ground and he crouches down to the ground and he says, 'Ma'am, ma'am, this is a kidnap pranking, I'm pranking you.'"
Stunned and furious, she said she yelled at the man for a few minutes before returning home safely.
"I didn't see anything funny about it,” Clark said. “It may have only lasted a couple of minutes but it was detrimental and traumatic for my children and for myself."
She said she feels the need to speak out for other parents.
"Hold your kids tight and always be aware," Clark said.
Clark said she contacted police to give them a suspect description and is in the process of filing a report.
She said even though she's talked to her children before about what to do if something like this happens, she now wants to start an actual group that teaches small children self-defense.