An Atlanta store clerk is facing charges of aggravated assault after locking an 11-year-old boy inside the store and holding the child at gunpoint, WSB-TV reports.
The convenience store clerk, identified as Abhishek Dubey, accused 11-year-old Dylan Curate of stealing when he detained the child and pointed a gun at him in the early-morning hours of Saturday.
Investigators reviewed surveillance footage and did not see evidence that Dylan had taken anything from the store, so they arrested Dubey instead.
"I was extremely saddened and disheartened by it. That was my son, my baby," Deangela Terriquez, Dylan's mother, told the news station.
Now people have taken up protests on the street near the store, urging people not to shop there.
"He didn't do anything wrong. He just came to the store," Terriquez said.
"He was literally kidnapped because that door was locked," Nicole Borden, of the DeKalb County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said. "His siblings was trying to get to him. That is very, very terrifying."
Dubey's co-worker tried to defend his colleague, saying that they have recently had issues with kids stealing from the store.
"It was a mistake, but it was a toy gun. It wasn't a real gun," another clerk, Atul Dwibedi, told the station.
Police told the news station that the gun was not a toy but was an unloaded and broken .22-caliber revolver, WSB-TV notes.
According to WSB-TV, the store employees said that Dylan should not have been out at 1:30 a.m. However, Terriquez said that her son, who was there with adult relatives, didn't deserve what happened to him.
"We would like for the clerk to be held accountable in a court of law," Terriquez said.
Read more at WSB-TV.