Alicia Keating, the mother of a 2-year-old that was taken hostage in Walmart, says she hasn't stop thinking about the standoff that turned deadly, but has "compassion" for the man that held her daughter at knife-point and prays the "Lord would show him mercy."
It was a little more than two weeks ago during a routine day of shopping at a Midwest City, Okla., Walmart that Keating's daughter Zoey was snatched from her shopping cart by Sammie Wallace. Surveillance cameras were rolling June 17 when police shot and killed Wallace at point-blank range to end the standoff.
"I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened. That's all I think about anymore. I haven't been out by myself since it happened. I'm not really scared for my life, but just anxious," Keating said.
Zoey was uninjured in the incident and safely returned to her mother immediately after the shooting. According to authorities, Wallace was a wanted felon with a history of mental illness.
"My heart broke for Sammie Wallace. I didn't know what he was going through. I couldn't believe he died with my daughter in his arms," Keating said. "I couldn't believe it. I just felt sorry for him and I prayed that the Lord would show him mercy… He was just telling me he had kids too."
Keating says she was in the process of wrapping up her grocery shopping with Zoey and her 12-year-old daughter Ashley when she reached for something and had her back to the cart. When she turned around, her playful toddler was in the arms of Wallace, who was holding a knife in the other hand.
"I was frantic. Nothing can prepare you, I don't think, for a moment like this," Keating said.
Keating began to scream and pleaded with the suspect to return her daughter.
"I said, 'Please, please don't hurt my baby. We weren't able to have children for three years I prayed for her every day that the Lord would give me a child and the Lord gave her to me. Please don't hurt her,'" she recalled.
"I don't know what he was going through. I felt sorry for him. I had a lot of compassion for him. I didn't know what was wrong with him but I told him I'll do anything you want just please don't hurt my baby," she added.
Wallace ignored her pleas and the dramatic surveillance video showed one customer, who stepped in to block Wallace from fleeing the store. Keating said the Good Samaritan was a local pastor named Mr. Parker.
"While Mr. Parker was standing there, it stopped Sammie from going anywhere he just stood there. So I thought thank God there's people here trying to help," Keating said.
Within minutes, police arrived and moved Keating to safety away from Wallace. The rest of the Walmart was evacuated as police began more than 30 minutes of negotiations with Wallace and, at one point, even offered him a chair.
"That was the hardest thing to do to, leave my baby there in this man's arms," she said.
Police say Wallace was uncooperative and the situation quickly deteriorated, with the suspect making odd demands. The tipping point came when Wallace started an ominous 60-second countdown with the knife still close to the toddler's neck.
With the countdown drawing closer to zero, an officer distracted Wallace as Capt. David Huff moved in and fired a single deadly shot at his head from point-blank range, ending the ordeal.
For Keating, the uncertainty reached its apex after the gun shot.
"I thought my baby is dead so I started screaming on the top of my lungs," she said.
Seconds after the standoff concluded, the Keatings were reunited.
"I see her and she's got blood all over her and I'm like thank God. Thank God she's alive," Keating said.
Keating says Zoey was shaken up from the harrowing experience but is already smiling and playing with her big sister.
"I've never been more thankful to have my baby," she said.