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Dad 'Wanted to Kill' Man Who Found His Lost Toddler

Father believed stranger was child predator, cops say
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2017 10:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – 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. A man was visiting with friends at a softball game in Lakeland, Fla., on Saturday when he noticed a toddler looking lost, reports WFLA. Authorities say the man began walking with the 2-year-old girl, hoping she would point out her parents. But as the pair neared a playground, the girl's father suddenly appeared and was enraged. After a friend grabbed the girl, her father says he punched the stranger five or six times in the face, per WTSP. "I saw this man with my daughter in his hands walking toward the parking lot. What would you do?" he said to WFLA. "I wanted to kill him!"

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Police say the girl's parents were clearly "shocked" and "scared." However, an investigation revealed the Good Samaritan was indeed trying to help, as at least one independent witness had seen him trying to locate the parents, police say. Officers also confirmed the man, who has two children of his own, was at the game visiting friends, who were off-duty police officers. But the girl's father says he doesn't buy the man's story. After the incident, the father's friends and relatives shared the stranger's photo, phone number, and business info on Facebook, labeling him a "child predator." The man, who declined to press charges related to the assault, tells NBC Miami he has left town with his family in fear. (A Good Samaritan lost both legs after helping at a crash site, then got a fitting gift.)

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