Fort Worth, TX – An abducted eight-year-old girl was rescued by police after two citizens went looking for the kidnapper’s vehicle using the descriptions they saw in the Amber Alert.
Eight-year-old Salem Sabatka was out walking with her mother in the 2900-block of 6th Avenue at approximately 6:40 p.m. on Saturday night, when a man drove up next to them, KTVT reported.
He then snatched Salem away from her mother, and forced her into the car, according to NBC News.
The girl's mother fought with the kidnapper, and managed to grab onto a piece of his jewelry before he threw her from the vehicle, police said.
A portion of the altercation was captured by a neighbor’s doorbell camera.
The neighbor heard the distraught mother’s screams, and rushed to help her as the kidnapper sped away with Salem.
Police issued an Amber Alert during the eight-hour search for the little girl, and photos of the suspect’s Ford Five Hundred spread across social media.
“My friend texted me and said Riz’s daughter was kidnapped,” Jeff King told CBS News. “I know the father.”
King reached out to other friends who were already out searching for Salem, then headed over to the crime scene, CNN reported.
He said one of the detectives handling the case told him to keep an eye out for the little girl and the suspect’s vehicle at area hotels, apartment, and parks, King explained.
He and another friend began searching the area, and happened to spot the kidnapper’s vehicle parked in a hotel parking lot, CBS News reported.
"This adrenaline was rushing through my veins,” King recalled. “I could barely stand still, me and the person I was with.”
They alerted the police, who responded to the hotel and pinpointed which room the suspect was in, CNN reported.
They then breached the door, rescued Salem, and took 51-year-old Michael Webb into custody.
"As you can see, there is a smile on my face. I'm here to report that Salem has been found safe," Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD) spokesman Buddy Calzada told reporters.
The little girl was taken to a local hospital, and has since been reunited with her family.
King said that he and his friends were elated when they realized their efforts had paid off.
“We were jut hugging each other and he and I were like, beside ourselves,” he told CBS News.
“They’re our heroes tonight, I’ll tell you that,” Calzada said of those who went out searching for Salem, according to CNN.
King said he is not a hero, and that he just wanted to do anything he could to make sure Salem got home safe.
“I don’t think we ever lost faith, but there were a few times where I thought to myself, ‘What’s the real chance of you finding her?’” he told CBS News. “Then I would say, ‘Well, there’s a better chance of us finding her if we’re looking than if we’re not.”
Webb, who is not related to Salem, has been charged with first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping, and additional charges are expected, NBC News reported.
He was transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday morning, WFAA reported.
Calzada said that the attack appears to have been random.
“He just decided to take this child at this given moment,” he told WFAA.
Webb’s neighbor, John Gore, said that he was “shocked” to discover that Webb had an extensive criminal history.
Webb previously served time in prison for possession of a controlled substance and burglary of a habitation.
He was accused of sexual assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2018, but those charges were dismissed because prosecutors couldn’t locate the victim.