When Jeff King heard that his old friend’s 8-year-old daughter had been grabbed on the street while walking with her mother Saturday night, he jumped in a car to help find her.
Along with a friend, King scanned the streets of Fort Worth, Texas, searching for young Salem Sabatka or the vehicle police said the girl had been whisked in to, Fort Worth police spokesman Buddy Calzada tells PEOPLE.
Ultimately, King and his fellow passenger spotted the vehicle parked outside of a WoodSpring Suites — and after the pair notified police, Salem was recovered safely and her alleged captor, 51-year-old Michael Webb, was arrested.
The Sunday morning recovery of the girl ended a harrowing episode that began when she was abducted at 6:40 p.m. on Saturday.
“He was a key factor into solving this case, literally,” says Calzada, who previously described the two citizens as “heroes.”
The second person with King has not authorized the release of his name.
“We got out here and tried to make a difference,” King said Monday on Good Morning America, reports CNN. “I went ahead and started looking at parks and then just kind of [was] told this one motel, and we went there. And on the way back from that motel, this one was right next to us on the access road, so we just pulled in and yeah, that’s how it happened. It’s kind of crazy.”
King, a member of Bear Creek Bible Church in suburban Keller, learned about the abduction on a phone call from a friend, who shared the news that the daughter of their fellow high school classmate had been grabbed off the street, says Calzada.
Although King had not been in contact with Salem’s father for several years, King joined in the search, says Calzada.
Through social media and local media, Forth Worth police had quickly spread word about the abduction and “requested that the citizens of Fort Worth help us out,” he says.
“Mr. King was one of the residents who basically heard our request and got into action,” says Calzada. “He actually checked several different locations with a fellow church member of his, and he’d been searching all night and was almost about to call it quits. As they were headed home, they saw a WoodSprings Suites across the road, and decided to check that, since they felt like they’d checked every other place in Fort Worth.”
“When they did, they saw a vehicle that matched the description of the photos we sent out, and they called police.”
The vehicle was spitted in the hotel’s side parking lot. With officers already scouring the area nearby, “they were on the scene immediately,” says Calzada. “We connected with them so that [King] could point out the vehicle to us.”
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“Once he pointed out the vehicle, we felt that it was a solid lead and we investigated it further,” he says. “We went to the room of the registered owner of that vehicle and, through exigent circumstances, we were able to breach the door and locate Salem and Mr. Webb inside the room.”
He declined further comment on the condition of the two in the room, but says that “per normal protocol,” the child was taken by an ambulance to a local hospital to be checked out before she was reunited with her family.
Outside of the hotel, King and his companion waited. “Once it was confirmed by officers on scene that Salem was safely located, Mr. King called Salem’s father to give him the news,” says Calzada.
Webb was arrested on a first-degree felony charge of aggravated kidnapping. He is currently being held in Tarrant County jail with a $100,000 bond, according to online inmate records.
It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea, and an attorney who might speak on his behalf was not immediately named.