As if that weren't bad enough, the girl's parents called out the man on Facebook and accused him of being a kidnapper, despite Lakeland Police concluding that he did no such thing.
A man trying to help a lost toddler find her parents was misidentified as a kidnapper on social media at the weekend, according to police in the U.S., prompting him to leave his hometown in fear for his safety and the safety of his family. But the dad tells us all he saw was this unusual man walking towards this parking lot with his daughter.
"I wanted to kill the man", the girl's father told WFLA.
The girl's father admits he punched the man several times because he believed the man was trying to leave the playground with his daughter. Word quickly spread on the internet and the man's name, workplace, and even pictures of his children were posted online.
"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.
"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.
So when he spotted a two-year-old girl wandering alone he thought she might need help and approached her, asking her where her parents were and eventually deducing that she had been separated from her father. The Good Samaritan told police the little girl pointed at this park, so that's where he was taking her to find her parents.
"I thought he was trying to take my daughter", the girl's father told Florida's News Channel 8.
According to The Washington Post, the man has since left the Florida town of Lakeland with his family, fearing for their safety and his own. "What would you do?" the father asked.
Police warn that anyone who posts false information on social media could be the source of a defamation of character claim and could be held liable, WFLA reported. The citizen declined to press charges because he said he understood, as a parent, the fear of a child being abducted, police said.
"Accounts of this incident have circulated on social media with false information and speculation", the department said in its statement Tuesday.
A Good Samaritan was branded a child predator and had his photo plastered across social media over the weekend, all because he tried to help a lost child. All in all I'm happy this little girl is safe though.