A 6-year-old apparent kidnap victim lunged into the arms of a Kentucky police officer and sobbed “I want my daddy” in gut-wrenching body camera footage of her rescue released by authorities this week.
The Louisville Metro Police Department posted the video Wednesday after the girl was located in the front seat of the car of her suspected kidnapper last week.
“Hello. It’s okay, c’mon,” said Officer Jason Burba as he opened the car door to lift out the crying child.
His partner, Sgt. Joe Keeling, arrested Robby Wildt, 40, on the scene. Wildt was later charged with kidnapping.
The frantic search for a child is “like the world stops. Every second feels like hours,” Burba told NBC News of the rescue. “It’s tough,” he added, fighting back tears.
Keeling called the situation “overwhelming, especially when you hear her crying and asking for her family. It’s definitely a gut check.”
The rescue was a group effort. Neighbor Prentiss Weatherford told WAVE-3 TV that he and his father witnessed a man snatch the girl by her collar off her bike in her neighborhood last Friday, “throw her” into his car and “take off.”
Weatherford chased after the car, noted part of the license plate and told police, who found the girl some 30 minutes later.
Wildt was nabbed near the site of the kidnapping, police said.
Investigators said he “saw the victim playing outside near the street, circled the block and then took her from the side of the road,” according to local CBS affiliate WLKY.
Wildt told police he headed back to the spot where he had taken the child because he was “afraid he may hurt her,” according to USA Today.
Police took the opportunity to warn parents about risks to their children.
“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” Officer Beth Ruoff said in a statement to news outlets. “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.”
The girl is back home with her family.
Wildt pleaded not guilty to kidnapping charges at a Saturday court appearance. His bond was set at $1 million.
View the police body camera video and an interview with a neighbor above. Officers involved in the rescue are interviewed in the clip below.