The Brookside Police Department on Tuesday released body camera video that shows officers free the woman from the van, which officials say was equipped with instruments of maltreatment. The van featured a cage in the back and wire cages over its windows. The doors were chained shut from the inside.
Police say the suspect, identified as Sean E. Sanders of Los Angeles, also draped blankets over the windows to prevent those on the outside from seeing what lay within.
“We learned the suspect had every intention of killing her if the witness had not shown up when he did,” Brookside Police Chief Mike Jones said in an interview Thursday. “We would never encourage someone to follow a suspect, but that’s one we believe God put there for a reason.”
In a statement, police detailed their pursuit of Sanders as he sped through the streets of north-central Jefferson County. In his effort to elude authorities, Sanders reportedly rammed a witness vehicle before he was temporarily cornered, where officers observed an “injured female victim bleeding from her head being held against her will and forced to the floorboard by the suspect.”
Sanders reportedly fought the officers who attempted to enter his van and managed to flee again. He later hit a police car and allegedly tried to run over a Brookside officer, who shot at the van to disable it. It was then, police say, that Sanders crawled into the back of the van and again held the victim at knifepoint.
Police say they negotiated with Sanders for 35 minutes as the woman inside screamed for help.
“The suspect was demanding the officers kill him,” police wrote. “Fearing immediate danger to the victim Brookside tactical officers breached the rear of the suspect vehicle, Tased the suspect and made entry into the front of the vehicle to engage the suspect.”
Sanders, who police say has an “extensive” criminal history, faces a litany of charges including kidnapping, attempted murder of a police officer, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing, police said. He was also charged with attempting to elude and three counts of second-degree criminal mischief. Sanders reportedly confessed to all the charges, including kidnapping the woman, and admitted that he “tried to run over a police officer and continued the standoff with police because he wanted the officers to kill him.”
The victim, who has not been named, was seriously injured after being struck in the head multiple times with a tire iron and remains in the hospital, Jones said. He told The Washington Post that a preliminary investigation suggests Sanders and the victim knew of each other through mutual acquaintances.
“We haven’t been able to finish the investigation because of her condition,” Jones said. “They knew of each other, that’s all they’ve been able to determine thus far.”
Jones on Thursday confirmed local reports that credited Jay Bostic as the witness who intervened in the alleged kidnapping. The chief called Bostic a “humble man” who credited God for his actions and did not want to be portrayed as a hero.
“At the time I really didn’t know if she was being kidnapped,” Bostic told WBRC. “I didn’t have all the facts, but I knew I wasn’t going to let him leave without the police checking it out.”
Sanders was taken to Jefferson County Jail on $191,000 bond and it was not clear Thursday if he had an attorney. In his statement, Jones again commended his officers and Bostic for their actions.
“Without his vigilance and proactive response, we could be investigating a homicide,” he added.