Brookside, AL – Police were able to rescue a kidnapping victim on Sunday after a witness who saw the woman get grabbed called police and followed the suspect’s van (video below).
Brookside police officers responded to a 911 call about a woman being kidnapped in a white van on Brookside Coalburg Road at about 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 29, WVTM reported.
The witness told police the woman screamed “Help! He’s gonna kill me!” as she was being forced into a white van at knifepoint, according to The Washington Post.
Police said the witness followed the van and was able to give dispatchers the license plate number and whereabouts.
“We learned the suspect had every intention of killing her if the witness had not shown up when he did,” Brookside Police Chief Mike Jones said. “We would never encourage someone to follow a suspect, but that’s one we believe God put there for a reason.”
Police said the suspect – later identified as Sean E. Sanders of Los Angeles – rammed the witness’ vehicle and tried to flee, WVTM reported.
"Officers were able to block the suspect vehicle on Mt. Olive Rd where they observed a injured female victim bleeding from her head being held against her will and forced to the floorboard by the suspect," Brookside police said in a press release after the incident. "Officers attempted entry into the suspect vehicle. The suspect fought officers and rammed a police unit fleeing the scene."
Police finally blocked Sanders’ van in near Joe Nail Road, but the suspect fled and tried to run over a Brookside officer in the process, WVTM reported.
The officer fired at Sanders’ van as he tried to escape through the front yard of a nearby residence, disabling the vehicle, The Washington Post reported.
That’s when police said Sanders crawled into the back of the fan and held his kidnap victim at knifepoint while he demanded that officers kill him.
"Assisting officers barricaded the suspect vehicle and established a tactical perimeter surrounding the suspect vehicle," the police press release said. "The suspect held the victim at knife point barricaded in the rear of the van."
Officers attempted to negotiate with Sanders for 35 minutes before they affected the rescue, The Washington Post reported.
“The suspect was demanding the officers kill him,” police said. “Fearing immediate danger to the victim, Brookside tactical officers breached the rear of the suspect vehicle, Tased the suspect and made entry into the front of the vehicle to engage the suspect.”
The rescue was captured on bodycam video and showed Brookside police and Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies climbing into the front of the van as law enforcement officers behind the vehicle opened the rear doors and pulled out the woman who had been kidnapped.
Police said the van had cages over the windows and a cage in the back, The Washington Post reported.
The doors were chained shut from the inside and police said Sanders had covered the windows with blankets.
Sanders was facing charges of kidnapping, attempted murder of a police officer, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment, criminal trespassing, attempting to elude, and three counts of second-degree criminal mischief, The Washington Post reported.
He confessed to all of the crimes, including the kidnapping, and admitted he had “tried to run over a police officer and continued the standoff with police because he wanted the officers to kill him.”
Sanders was being held in the Jefferson County Jail on a $191,000 bond.
Chief Jones said the initial investigation indicated that Sanders and the victim, who was seriously injured during the incident, knew each other through mutual acquaintances, The Washington Post reported.
The witness who alerted police was later identified as Jay Bostic.
“At the time I really didn’t know if she was being kidnapped,” Bostic told WBRC. “I didn’t have all the facts, but I knew I wasn’t going to let him leave without the police checking it out.”
Watch video of the dramatic rescue here below: