When we reach out to help people, we sometimes hesitate because it can be hard to determine if offering help would be appropriate or seen as rude. But when it comes to a wandering toddler, most people would step in right away.
That’s what one man in Lakeland, Florida did over the weekend when he spotted a 2-year-old-girl that had gotten separated from her parents at a baseball game. That’s when he did what any adult and parent would do (he has children of his own) and tried to help her locate her parents.
When the girl’s father was alerted that his daughter was walking with a stranger he assumed that the man was trying to kidnap her. The girl’s father ended up beating up the man whom police are calling a ‘good samaritan’ and ended up bullying him out of the town.
When the parents were told that their daughter was walking towards the park with a strange man, they immediately jumped to conclusions.
The father and his friends grabbed the child and immediately began kicking and hitting the man who was just trying to help.
They didn’t buy his story that he was only trying to help her locate her family. At one point the 2-year-old had tried to pull away but he picked her up out of concern for her safety.
Police issued a statement in which they confirm that the man’s intentions were good. ‘This incident truly involved a good samaritan trying to assist a lost child finding their parents.’
This didn’t sit well with the family who is still convinced this man was trying to kidnap their child. They took to Facebook, spreading his name and information and posting photos of him and his children. ‘So I guess in Lakeland you can kidnap a child and get away with it,’ the father said to police.
They spread a bunch of lies and slander on Facebook about the man, accusing him of being a child predator. His information quickly spread and he and his family were forced to leave town out of fear for their life. They had been receiving threats.
Police warned to be very careful with what you post and spread on Facebook. False information can spread and this can lead to problems like this.
Sgt. Gary Gross has spoken with the man since the incident. The man says he understands how his actions could have been misinterpreted and also understands the way the father reacted. When asked if he wouldn’t help the child because of how his name was smeared, he said he would still do it again if he had to.