Louisville Metro police officers rescued a girl from a terrible fate after she was kidnapped off the street while playing in her front yard.
Body cam footage released by the department showed Officer Jason Burba opening the suspect’s Dodge Challenger car door and picking up the child while Sergeant Joe Keeling apprehended the kidnapper.
Burba first said “hello!” and reassured the girl before picking her up and walking to a police vehicle. The child can be heard saying, “I want my daddy!”
“When I approached the vehicle, I didn’t know what was going to be behind that door. The windows, the tint was so dark,” Burba told NBC-affiliate WAVE.
The suspect, Robby L. Wildt, 40, was arrested and charged with kidnapping, a felony punishable with up to 10 to 20 years in prison.
Wildt told police that he saw the girl playing outside on the street and circled around the neighborhood before grabbing her by the collar and throwing her into the passenger’s seat. He said that the girl cried and he tried to console her, while “he knew what he was doing was wrong.”
Neighbor Prentiss Weatherford witnessed the kidnapping from a door down. “He just grabbed her by the collar, threw her bike, threw her in the passenger’s seat,” Weatherford said.
Weatherford then got in his car and pursued the vehicle, informing the police of the first digits of the car’s license plate.
According to WAVE, the man was “afraid he may hurt the child” so he decided to drive back to where he found her when police stopped him and apprehended him at gunpoint.
Keeling said he was relieved when Wildt complied with orders to get out of the car and get on the ground. The whole incident, from the kidnapping to the rescue, took about 9 minutes.
The girl was not injured, but the incident highlights the dangers of child kidnappings.
Louisville police spokeswoman Beth Ruoff said stranger kidnapping is rare and police more commonly encounter custodial-related kidnappings.
“Although we do not want the community to be alarmed, this is certainly an educational opportunity for parents to remind their children that ‘stranger danger’ is real,” the statement said. “It is important to talk to your kids about any adult who tries to use a ruse to lure them to their vehicles or away from public view,” she said.
Burba, a father, said most of the officers who responded also have children.
“It’s like the world stops. It’s like every second feels like hours,” he said.
On July 19, Sen. Rand Paul recognized the 3rd Division officers for rescuing the child from a stranger kidnapping. The commendation event was streamed on Facebook.