Good Samaritan in US beaten, forced to leave town after being mistaken for kidnapper

A man was mistaken for a kidnapper after trying to help a little girl find her parents at a Lakeland sports stadium in Florida.
A man was mistaken for a kidnapper after trying to help a little girl find her parents at a Lakeland sports stadium in Florida. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/LAKELANDPD

A Florida man had to leave town after helping a little girl who got lost at a sports stadium.

The two-year-old girl's parents have insisted that the man was trying to kidnap their child despite denials from him and the police.

The Lakeland police department said that the toddler became separated from her parents at Southwest Sports Complex on Saturday (June 24).

The man, who was not named by the police, walked with her hoping to help her identify her parents, the police department said in a statement on its Facebook page.

"At least one independent witness stated they observed the citizen walking with the child trying to help find her parents," the post said.

The parents were told that the man was walking towards a playground with their child and feared that he was trying to kidnap her.

Sergeant Gary Gross of the Lakeland Police Department told CNN that the girl's father and his friends attacked the man.

"They grabbed that child and took him (the man) from behind and knocked him to the ground and started kicking and hitting him," Gross said.

"It's understandable how parents can possibly be upset in a situation involving a lost child," the police statement said.

"However, this incident truly involved a Good Samaritan trying to assist a lost child finding their parents."

Mr Gross said that the man who was attacked has signed a waiver of prosecution against the father as he is also a father and could understand how the parent felt.

But the father of the girl has refused to believe that the man was not trying to kidnap his child.

"So I guess in Lakeland, you can kidnap a child and get away with it," he told police, according to the CNN report.

The family then shared the man's personal details, his photo and the photo of his children on Facebook, accusing him of being a sexual predator and trying to take their girl.

Posts on Facebook called on people to band together to run him out of town.

The man and his family left town of their own accord after receiving threats and fearing for their safety, CNN said.

Lakeland police warned people to be careful what they post on social media so as not to victimise an innocent person.

"Posting false information on Facebook could cause a defamation of character claim and those posting false information could be held liable," it said in its statement.

It provided a number for citizens to call to verify information on incidents being investigated.