Alicia Keating, the mother of the 2-year-old girl taken hostage at knifepoint inside an Oklahoma Walmart, opened up for the first time since the frightening incident, saying she “was literally begging for my daughter’s life.”
Keating went through every mom’s worst nightmare on June 17, when Sammie Wallace snatched little Zoey Keating from her mother’s shopping cart inside a Midwest City, Okla., Walmart. Wallace, who was later shot by police after a tense 30-minute standoff, then held a knife to the 2-year-old as her mother pleaded for him to release her daughter.
“Here's this huge man standing there with my daughter in his arms, and he has a knife pointing toward her side,” Keating told the “Today” show Wednesday. “I did not maintain my composure. I was completely freaked out. I wanted to reach out and grab her, but he had a knife. There was nothing I could do but stand there and beg for her life.”
That’s when other Walmart shoppers phoned 911. The Midwest City Police Department headquarters is located across the street from the Walmart.
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Officers stormed the store and evacuated the shoppers as Capt. David Huff tried to get Wallace to release the girl.
But the negotiations took an unpromising turn when Wallace started counting down from 60 while holding the knife to Zoey’s throat. Huff then decided to shoot Wallace, fearing he was about to harm the 2-year-old girl.
“When you have a suspect that starts counting down on a child's life, we're going to have to take appropriate action, and unfortunately we had to use deadly force,” Midwest City Assistant Police Sid Porter said.
Keating said she was outside the Midwest City Walmart when she heard the shot. She initially feared the worst.
“I heard the shot go off, and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, they just killed her.’ I thought, ‘She's dead,’” the Oklahoma mom said.
Keating told “Today" that the harrowing experience has made her that much more grateful for her daughter being in her life.
“My hugs are a lot tighter,” she said. “When I watch her play, I have never been more thankful.”
Midwest City police released video of Zoey being taken hostage inside the Walmart. Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said Huff was prepared to shoot Wallace knowing that if he missed Zoey would likely be killed by Wallace.
Prior to knowing the situation, knowing that negotiations were deteriorating, he actually walked around the corner to the aisle and checked to make sure he had a round in his chamber. Because he knew if he was going to take the shot, he’d have one chance,” Clabes said of his captain.