Police: Good Samaritan punched for trying to find lost girl's parents

Little League incident shows how scary Social Media can be

His picture was plastered all over social media with the caption, "Lets [sic] make him go around on here to help keep all babies safe from this {expletive}." The post claims he tried to kidnap a two-year-old girl at a softball game in Lakeland over the weekend.

However, police say the man was just trying to reunite her with her parents.

“This guy is a father, a local businessman, he has two children, was trying to help this child, and they turned it completely around, and that's not right,” Sgt. Gary Gross with the Lakeland Police Department said.

The one part of the story everyone agrees on is the girl wandered from a dugout where her parents were watching her.

This is where the story splits into two paths. On the one hand, you've got the guy police are calling a Good Samaritan, who came to this playground area with the little girl in his arms to try to find her parents.

Then, you have the parents, who see a stranger carrying their little girl in the direction of the parking lot afraid he's trying to kidnap her.

“I wanted to kill the man,” the father said on the phone.

He explained he punched the man five or six times in the face.

“You don't just pick up somebody's kids, bro, and walk to the parking lot, or walk in that direction,” he said.

After the incident, the posts started and spread. The threats toward the Good Samaritan followed. That Good Samaritan tells 10News he left Lakeland because he was afraid of more retaliation.

It got so bad the Lakeland Police Department had to take to its own Facebook to clear things up. One person commented she shared the post to be helpful, but now feels awful knowing it wasn't.

“I now know of two individuals who called the police department, and both of them said it took them ten minutes to get the rundown on what happened, the correct information,” Gross said.

He said this incident is a good example of why you shouldn’t believe everything you see on social media and jump to conclusions.

Police say the Good Samaritan who got punched didn't want to press charges against the dad. The dad's still not convinced he was trying to help find the girl's parents, but a lot of the nasty posts on social media have been deleted.
 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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