A Florida man that was trying to help a 2-year-old girl who was lost in a park find her parents, found himself at the end of her father’s fist: the dad, seeing the man with his child, thought he had abducted her.
The father ended up attacking the man with several punches, before the man could explain that he was trying to help.
The girl’s father said he had no regrets beating up the man, saying that it was a normal reaction for any parent.
The Daily Mail reports:
The young girl’s father, Austin Strickland, says he has no regrets about jumping to conclusions about Patel’s intentions.
Strickland, his wife, and their two-year-old daughter drove Saturday afternoon to the Super Complex in Lakeland, where he was scheduled to play a softball game.
Strickland apparently lost sight of his daughter, who wandered off and out of the dugout, according to WFTS.
The girl was then spotted by Patel.
Patel was in the area with a friend, who just happened to be a Polk Sheriff’s Office deputy, according to Fox 13.
Patel asked the girl if she knew where her parents were, but she could not say.
‘He saw that the child was in danger,’ said Lakeland Police Department Sgt. Gary Gross.
‘She was wandering off and he did the right thing by going to her, getting her attention, trying to find the parents.
‘We had an independent eyewitness that saw him walking around, asking, “Is this your parents? Is that your father?”‘
Strickland says when he saw Patel with his daughter, he didn’t think twice.
‘When I got there, I just swung on him,’ Strickland said.
‘You’re damn right [I punched him]. I wanted to kill the man,’ Strickland told FOX 13.
‘You just don’t take someone else’s kid and walk to the parking lot or walk in that direction.’
Strickland punched Patel about six times.
Patel says that even though he was beat up pretty badly, he declined to press charges because as a parent he understood Strickland’s reaction.
However, despite the fact that Patel’s name has been cleared, due to a false post on Facebook, where people began sharing his name, family’s pictures, and where he worked, Patel has been harassed to the point of having to move.
“Posting false information on Facebook could cause a defamation of character claim and those posting false information could be held libel,” the Lakeland Police Department wrote on its Facebook page.
“Be careful about what you post on social media so as not to victimize an innocent person.”