LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A little girl cried in the front seat of a stranger's Dodge Challenger as police rescued her from an alleged kidnapper.
"I want my daddy," the 6-year-old girl sobbed as she clung to the officer who plucked her from the car and greeted her with a calm hello and reassurances that it was OK.
Louisville Metro Police released bodycam footage Thursday of officers rescuing the girl after she was kidnapped while playing outside on July 2. In the video, officer Jason Burba can be seen opening the passenger door of a Dodge Challenger and picking up the child, while Sergeant Joe Keeling orders the man to get on the ground before placing him in handcuffs.
Robby L. Wildt, 40, was arrested last Friday and charged with kidnapping, which in Kentucky is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.
Police say he took the girl around 5:40 p.m. last Friday and put her in his car before driving away, according to an arrest citation. Wildt had no relation to the 6-year-old girl, police said.
Wildt told police he saw the girl playing outside near the street, when he circled the block and took her from the side of the road, the arrest citation says. He said the girl cried in his car as he tried to console her before he decided "he knew what he was doing was wrong."
He then began driving back to where he took her from, "afraid he may hurt her," according to the citation. That was when police stopped the vehicle.
A neighbor, Prentiss Weatherford, told WAVE he was on his porch when the suspect's car stopped on the street where the girl was riding her bike.
“He just grabbed her by the collar, threw her bike, threw her in the passenger’s seat,” Weatherford told the station
Weatherford said he got into his own car and followed the vehicle.
The citation confirms that a witness began following the vehicle and was able to report part of the license plate number to police.
Officers nearby found the girl uninjured in the front seat of the vehicle.
The bodycam footage shows Burba initially yelling "open the door" while approaching the passenger side of the car with his gun drawn before other officers mentioned the girl may have been inside.
Keeling later told 840 WHAS during a radio interview that the incident only lasted eight to nine minutes. He described a feeling of relief after Wildt complied with the orders to exit the vehicle and the girl was safely taken out of the car.
"The feeling was just overwhelming," Keeling said.
Burba said "seconds feel like minutes" during these types of runs, which he said are rare.
Louisville police spokeswoman Beth Ruoff said stranger kidnapping is rare and police "more commonly we see custodial issues as 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."
Wildt pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing Saturday and had his bond set at $1 million. A preliminary hearing is set for July 12.
Contributing: Christine Fernando, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville police rescue 6-year-old girl from kidnapper in video