Police said the man was with friends when he saw the 2-year-old girl alone.
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. But the dad tells us all he saw was this unusual man walking towards this parking lot with his daughter.
Meanwhile, police say the good Samaritan could have pressed charges against Strickland but didn't because he, himself, is a dad and understands that Strickland was frantic over his girl going missing.
"I thought he was trying to take my daughter", the girl's said during a phone interview.
The girl's family posted the man's name, address and place of work on social media.More news: GOP infighting stalls budget plan
Police said he spotted the child Saturday at the Southwest Sports Complex. and tried to help her find her parents.
Sgt. Gary Gross of the Lakeland Police Department told CNN that the girl's father and some of his friends took the girl and attacked the man.
The girl's father just isn't buying it. "However, this incident truly involved a Good Samaritan trying to assist a lost child finding their parents". That Good Samaritan tells 10News he left Lakeland because he was afraid of more retaliation.
He said he even had to take his own family out of town.
According to NBC News affiliate WFLA, the child's father and two other men approached the citizen and punched him several times as another man grabbed the child.More news: 'Obamacare' repeal at risk after Senate shelves vote
Still, when asked whether he believed the man's innocence, the child's father said no. Patel does not have any criminal history and was at the park visiting friends.
"Be careful about what you post on social media so as not to victimize an innocent person", the department said.
The Lakeland Police Department issued a statement on Facebook confirming that it "thoroughly investigated this incident" and found that "no crime was committed". "Before posting information on matters such as this, we encourage people to identify the source and the validity of such claims before sharing them".
Strickland told WFTS that he did not regret beating the man up and was still uncertain whether or not the man was trying to abduct his daughter. "I wanted to kill him!" "Posting false information on Facebook could cause a defamation of character claim and those posting false information could be held liable", reads the statement.
Gross said. "Call whatever law enforcement agency is in your jurisdiction to get the correct information".More news: PM challenged to end austerity by backing police and fire services
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