FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Hundreds from a thankful community, including police, gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate the safe return of 8-year-old Salem Sabatka, who was kidnapped while walking with her mother in Fort Worth.
It was an emotional and powerful showing of support for the family that was in despair Saturday evening.
Police said Sabatka was taken by Michael Webb, 51, in broad daylight while she was walking with her mother on 6th Avenue. The man apparently grabbed the girl and put her in his car and drove away.
Police released pictures of Sabatka and surveillance video of Webb’s vehicle throughout social media, as well as issuing an Amber Alert.
The community joined Sabatka’s family in gratitude after police found her thanks to two church members who tipped authorities off about seeing Webb’s car at a hotel in Forest Hill. He was arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping.
Tim Keith led a neighborhood walk to celebrate Sabatka’s return with the grateful community.
“This is a very tight-knit community,” Keith said. “When anything comes up in this neighborhood that’s out of the ordinary, you see the citizens of this neighborhood band together very quickly.”
When Sabatka was kidnapped, Keith said his wife and 7-year-old were walking outside just one block over. He was relieved when the child was found alive.
“It was just like a nightmare had come to an end. I passed that info along to the rest of the neighborhood. People were wrecked with an anguish because of this situation because one of our own was taken during broad daylight with her mom right there. It’s just truly unbelievable,” Keith said.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price took part in the walk and hugged residents, sharing in their joy.
“I just love seeing that this community came together. It’s part of the reason we had such a successful result finding her and getting her back in her parents’ arms,” Price said.
In front of the community, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald gave a recap about how Sabatka was found and the emotional call that came in when she was found.
On the officers’ radios, authorities could be heard exclaiming, “We got her! We got her!”
Keith said community members will gather on Monday to review security concerns in the neighborhood.