A man trying to help a lost toddler find her parents was misidentified as a kidnapper on social media at the weekend, according to police in the United States, prompting him to leave his hometown in fear for his safety and the safety of his family. "The parents were alerted by bystanders that the citizen was walking towards a playground, which is near the parking lot, and feared that the citizen was attempting to kidnap the child".
After speaking with all parties involved, including witnesses who had seen the man walking with the girl and heard him asking her if passersby were her father, responding law enforcement decided that it had all been a awful mistake on the part of the little girl's family.
"I thought he was trying to take my daughter", the little girl's father told News Channel 8.
The girl's family posted the man's name, address and place of work on social media. "This guy, is a father, a local businessman, has two children, was trying to help this child". Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross spoke about the posts that were made about the man and warned others about posting information without knowing.
The police questioned the man and learned he was in the park visiting friends - off-duty police officers - and that he was only trying to help the girl. "However, this incident truly involved a Good Samaritan trying to assist a lost child finding their parents".
Three men, including the child's father, found the man. The father said that as one of his friends grabbed his daughter, he punched the man several times, WFLA reported.
Still, when asked whether he believed the man's innocence, the child's father said no.
A Good Samaritan, who was at the complex with a Polk Sherriff's Office deputy, found the wandering toddler but she couldn't tell him where her parents were.
"Be careful about what you post on social media so as not to victimize an innocent person", the department said. I wanted to kill the man, ' Strickland told FOX 13.
Police say the Good Samaritan who got punched didn't want to press charges against the dad. "Before posting information on matters such as this, we encourage people to identify the source and the validity of such claims before sharing them".
A good Samaritan in Lakeland, Florida who tried to help a lost two-year-old girl locate her family was beaten by a group of men who mistook him for a kidnapper.
Before posting to social media, police suggest calling police to verify what happened and get correct information.