A 16-year-old girl was found safe after terrifying security camera footage showed the moment she was snatched and thrown into a van as she walked down a New York City street with her mother.
"The case is still under investigation to look into whether there was an abduction," an NYPD spokesperson told BuzzFeed News Tuesday night.
Police said the girl, Karol Sanchez, was found Tuesday afternoon, roughly 16 hours after the security camera captured what appeared to be a kidnapping. She was walking along Eagle Avenue in the Bronx at 11:20 p.m. when a beige sedan stopped suddenly. Two men jumped out of the car, grabbed the 16-year-old, and dragged her into the vehicle.
In the video, her mother can be seen running after and even briefly getting into the car, before being pushed out as the car takes off.
On Tuesday afternoon, a New York Police Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that Sanchez had been reunited with her mom and was unharmed.
Police sources told the New York Post that why the girl staged her kidnapping remained under investigation. But, the Post reported, she had objected to her mother's plans to move the family back to Honduras.
Before Sanchez was found, the girl's mother believed the kidnapping was real and had been distraught.
At the time Sanchez was pulled into the car on Monday night, neighbor Breanna Faulkner, 29, was in bed in her Eagle Avenue apartment watching television when she heard screams.
"I heard someone crying in agony, in pain," Faulkner, a fingerprint machine operator, told BuzzFeed News. "It was a wailing."
At first, Faulkner thought perhaps a neighbor had a horror movie turned up loud. But after the screams continued for a few minutes, she decided to go outside for a look, telling herself if it was nothing, she'd just buy a ginger ale from the bodega.
"I couldn't just lay in my bed with the wails," Faulkner said.
Just outside her building, she found Sanchez's mother lying on the ground in the rain, her knees covered in dirt and her umbrella strewn 15–20 feet away.
"Literally, I just walked into a crime scene," Faulkner told BuzzFeed News.
"It looked like someone had pushed her down and she stayed there and couldn't get up," said Faulkner, in a Facebook video she recorded late Monday night.
"She was hysterical, she didn’t know what to do," Faulkner told BuzzFeed News. "She didn't want to leave that spot."
Faulkner speaks only basic Spanish, but the mother managed to communicate that men in a car had taken her daughter. Faulkner immediately dialed 911 and reported the kidnapping.
Faulkner called a neighbor who spoke Spanish, who came to help translate.
Faulkner said she tried to quiz the mother for as many details as she possibly could — "I watch a little bit of Criminal Minds" — in the hope that it might help as they waited for police to arrive.
She recalled asking: Did the woman see the license plate? What color was it? What did the car look like? How many men were they? Did the men say anything to them? Did they call her daughter's name? Where were they coming from?
The mother conveyed that the pair had been walking home from the girl's grandmother's house on that same block, and that they lived just a few blocks away. There were three or four men, and they didn't speak or say anything during the incident. The four-door, light brown car didn't have a license plate, Faulkner said the mother told her.
Faulkner said the mother described the men as "grabbing and pushing and snatching."
The woman's hands were shaking so much she couldn't answer her phone when it rang, so Faulkner helped her answer calls. The grandmother called, and then moments later came out to the street, embracing her terrified daughter.
"That was really emotional," Faulkner said. "That’s what let me know it was real."
In order to share information with the public as soon as possible, the mother let Faulkner look through her phone for a photo of a daughter.
"I could see they were happy," said Faulkner. "They looked alike and embraced each other in the pictures, very family oriented."
Faulkner said police arrived at least 20–30 minutes after she made her initial call, and she said they didn't seem to take the situation seriously. She was frustrated by the response time, as the nearest precinct is just five blocks away.
"We could have walked to the police precinct, filed a report, and came back to the same spot, and still would have been there before the cops," Faulkner said.
Police are asking the public for any help in identifying the four men.