man trying to help a lost toddler find her parents was misidentified as
a kidnapper on social media over the weekend, according to police in
Lakeland, Fla., prompting him to leave town in fear for his safety and
the safety of his family. "The man was also punched by the child’s
father who told local media that he 'thought he was trying to take my
daughter' and 'wanted to kill him.' "The whole episode prompted
the Lakeland Police Department to warn citizens to 'be careful about
what you post on social media so as not to victimize an innocent person …
Before posting information on matters such as this, we encourage people
to identify the source and the validity of such claims before sharing
them.' "Lakeland police, in a Facebook post, said the falsely
accused man was visiting friends at a softball game when he noticed at a
2-year-old had gotten separated from her parents. She was 'wandering by
herself,' police said, and the man 'believed that she was lost.' "'The
citizen attempted to ask the girl where her parents were and walked
with her in hopes she could point them out,' the statement said, a fact
verified by at least one independent witness. "At that point, 'bystanders' told the parents that the man was 'attempting to kidnap the child,' said police. "As the two were nearing the playground, three men approached them from behind, Patch reported. One man grabbed the girl and the other man, who is the child’s father, punched the man five or six times. "'I thought he was trying to take my daughter,' the girl’s father told News Channel 8. "'I
saw this man with my daughter in his hands walking toward the parking
lot. What would you do?' the father asked. 'I wanted to kill him.' "The father told The Washington Post that it all happened very quickly, 'within 45 seconds.' "The investigating officer noted the victim’s face had several cuts and was swollen. "Police
concluded that the man was only trying to help. 'We had an independent
eyewitness that saw him walking around, asking, "Is this your parents?
Is that your father?"' Sgt. Gary Gross with the Lakeland Police
Department told Fox 13 News. "According to police
the young girl tried to pull away but the man was concerned for her
safety and picked her up and continued walking toward the playground, 'hoping that he would be able to locate the child’s father.' "The
father and his friends were not satisfied with the man’s explanation or
that of the police. 'So, I guess in Lakeland, you can kidnap a child
and get away with it,' the father said to police, local media reported. The police report, local media said, described the father as 'increasingly agitated.' "According
to WFLA, other media outlets and police, family members and friends
went on social media and shared the man’s photo, his Facebook page and
his place of business, 'calling him a child predator,' WFLA said. "Police,
however, called him a 'good Samaritan' in their statement. 'It is
understandable how parents can possibly be upset in a situation
involving a lost child,' the statement said. 'However, this incident
truly involved a good Samaritan trying to assist a lost child finding'
her parents. "'Accounts of this incident have circulated on social
media with false information and speculation. Posting false information
on Facebook could cause a defamation of character claim and those
posting false information could be held libel.'"
I guess if you see a lost child, it's better if a predator gets her/him. Stupid, stupid, stupid people. I feel bad that the young girl will have to grow up in a home where the father is so stupid. I hope she'll be able to break free from his hatred.
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