When a Florida man tried to be a good Samaritan by looking for the parents of a lost child, police say the story got twisted.
Police in Lakeland said it all began when a 2-year-old girl wandered away from her parents during a softball game at the Southwest Sports Complex on Saturday, Fox 13 reported.
This man was at the complex, found the wandering toddler but she couldn’t tell him where her parents were.
“He saw that the child was in danger. She was wandering off and he did the right thing by going to her, getting her attention, trying to find the parents,” Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross told the station. “We had an independent eyewitness that saw him walking around, asking, ‘Is this your parents? Is that your father?’”
As the Florida man wandered around the crowd with the girl in his arms, he caught Strickland’s attention. The worried dad was alerted and assumed the worst and took quick action.
"You’re damn right [I punched him]. I wanted to kill the man,” Strickland told FOX 13. “You just don't take someone else's kid and walk to the parking lot or walk in in that direction.”
Strickland said he punched the Good Samaritan maybe half-dozen times. But the good Samaritan got shamed on the internet much worse: His name, his picture, his kids’ pictures, and where he works – went viral.
There were warnings to watch out for him all over the web.
Lakeland police quickly tried to combat the spread of false information and issued a warning on Facebook: “Be careful about what you post on social media so as to not victimize an innocent person.”
Police added, “It’s understandable how parents can possibly be upset in a situation involving a lost child. However, this incident truly involved a Good Samaritan trying to assist a lost child finding their parents.”
After this warning by the police, many of the posts accusing the man were taken down.