Man gets accused of kidnapping lost child, gets smeared on Facebook and punched by the father ….

….all for trying to return the little girl to her parents.

And we wonder why no one wants to get involved anymore?

Florida police officers are warning people to double check what they post and share online after a man trying to help a lost child was vilified online as a presumed kidnapper when 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.

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.

“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?’”

Police said that as the man walked around the crowd with the girls in his arms, her parents were alerted, fearing that he was attempting to kidnap the child.

Her father, Austin Strickland, assumed the worst and attacked the man, punching him a half-dozen times.

“You’re damn right [I punched him]. I wanted to kill the man,” he told Fox 13. “You just don’t take someone else’s kid and walk to the parking lot or walk in that direction.”

Soon after, the story leaked online – but posts were blaming the man for allegedly trying to kidnap the little girl. Within hours, the man’s name, picture – his kids’ pictures – and where he worked were shared online with warnings to be on the lookout for him.

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.”

The warning seemed to work and many of the posts vilifying the man were taken down.

Lakeland police said the Good Samaritan would be well within his rights to press charges against Strickland, but didn’t because he understands the father was frantic over his little going missing.

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  1. bogsidebunny says:

    This ain’t the same world I knew growing up in the 1950’s when socializing meant being around people, talking eyeball to eyeball and the only TV news was a short 15 minutes from 6:00 PM to 6:15 PM followed by the weather report. Today the majority of American people are cynical, self-indulgent, assholes. They’re programmed and controlled by social media and a constant stream of fake news from the MSM sources. I’m more and more withdrawing into my own little world. And guess what? They like me here.

  2. BobF says:

    Today you don’t help a small child. Instead, you call 911 and let the cops deal with it. It’s sad but that’s what we live in today.

    Problem with Social Media is people believe what they read there without ever doing 30 seconds of research.

  3. Eskyman says:

    Totally agree with the above observations. Time was, if I saw a child on the sidewalk crying, I’d go try to help; try to find parents, look for a policeman to assist, maybe even buy the kid a drink or ice cream until things got sorted out.

    These days, if I see a kid crying on the sidewalk, I cross to the other side of the street. If I’m even anywhere near that kid, I can expect the lynch mob to go after me, since old white guy + crying child = “hey, that guy’s a child molester, get him!”

    I also wouldn’t look for a policeman to help. These days, too many cops are not living up to what being a cop should be; too many are just shakedown artists wearing a blue uniform. In L.A., some of them are actual gang members! (Don’t even get me started on their bosses, the thugs that got “elected” in our totally rigged system.)

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