The Oklahoma detective who shot and killed a kidnapper in a Walmart three years ago has been reunited with the girl whose life he’s credited with saving. And the heroism of the act has been officially recognized with a Medal of Valor.
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The original crime is still baffling for most involved. Sammie Wallace was wandering in the Walmart when he chose a small girl, at random, and snatched her from her mother’s shopping cart. He pulled a knife and held it to her abdomen and then her throat.
The 911 call began a 30-minute hostage situation. Police Maj David Huff, 50, is a trained hostage negotiator, and arrived on scene in time to engage Wallace in conversation.
Huff and Detective Darrell Miller did everything they could to calm Wallace, who was pressing the knife into two-year-old Zoey Keating’s stomach. The police positioned themselves strategically so that they had multiple shots on Wallace, in case anything escalated.
Then, without much warning, Wallace began a 60 second countdown and moved the knife to the girl’s throat. At this point, Huff sat back on his heels, and allowed another officer to speak, and then he stood casually, drew his firearm, and stepped into Wallace.
The shot to Wallace’s head was from pointblank range and the man was killed instantly. Huff immediately grabbed the girl and whisked her away.
“Taking someone’s life. Cop for 26 years,” Huff told CNN “and I never fired a shot at another human being. Ever.”
“We wanted to keep him calm,” Huff said. “He was in this manic state where he was basically blurting out statements. When he started to speak, and he started making statements about the cameras are all watching us, it’s the Illuminati. And George Bush is watching us. And he made reference to the CIA and that type of thing,”
“Looking at the way he was acting and the things he was doing, I absolutely took him at his word that when he got down to zero, he would hurt Zoey,” Huff recalled.
“I didn’t know if he had already stabbed her. I was angry. I wasn’t angry at Sammie Wallace. I was angry that he made me do it. And at that point, I thought that Zoey had already been cut or stabbed and that I waited too long.”
“They finally came around and said, ‘She doesn’t have a scratch on her.’ That was the best part.”
Zoey is now five years old. She calls Huff her superhero.
On May 16, Huff was awarded the Medal of Valor by President Barack Obama in recognition of his actions.