Fort Worth

Fort Worth Neighborhood Where Girl Was Kidnapped Meets to Talk Safety, Ask Questions

Just two weeks after an 8-year-old girl was kidnapped right in front of her mother's eyes, residents of a Fort Worth neighborhood want to know what they can do to be safer.

The Ryan Place Improvement Association met Monday night with police and city leaders to clear up details about the kidnapping and to discuss steps to make it a safer neighborhood.

Folks at the meeting inside St. John's Church are still giving thanks that an 8-year-old girl is home safe, after an entire neighborhood's darkest night.

"People in this neighborhood care about each other, a lot," said Tim Keith, president of the Ryan Place Improvement Association.

But there are still questions about how quickly police shared information.

"It was at 9:14 p.m. or was it any earlier than that and can we shorten that time frame?" one neighbor asked.

And why part of the Amber Alert system failed, when a fax machine police used to send out the alert didn't work.

"It's time for us to be able to move with the direction of the new technologies," Fort Worth police Lt. Ward Robinson said.

The department will now use an email as well, and they're looking at ways to share more information on social media, but said they have to take their time to vet everything they release.

"We don't want people out looking for false or misleading information," Robinson said.

When the kidnapping happened, on May 18, the community jumped into action with whatever information they could find.

"She was just screaming help me, help me, somebody help me, they took her, they took her," neighbor Leticia Clay said.

Clay heard those screams from the child's mother, who had been walking with the little girl when she was snatched off the street by a stranger.

A Ring doorbell camera caught an image of the car, and neighbors quickly spread it across social media.

"We were able to immediately create this web where we were able to get out and people started looking out immediately," Keith said.

Volunteers spotted the suspect's car outside a Forest Hill hotel, leading police to rescue the child and arrest the suspect, Michael Webb.

The folks gathered Monday night are proud of their part in bringing an innocent girl home and while they pray it's never needed again, they want the whole city to learn from Ryan Place, to keep every child safe.

"Where do we go from here?" Keith said.

The city is looking into starting a new app where citizens could get messages and share information about cases like this.

They're also urging people to register their security cameras with the city to access video faster, and they're encouring more volunteers to sign up for citizens on patrol, to act as an extra set of eyes for police.

Fort Worth police have also spoken with people from the regional and state Amber Alert systems about possible changes, like to the rule that they don't send phone text alerts between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

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