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“My whole life is tragic now. Everybody is looking at me funny. And my respect now is endangered because nobody will trust me,” Utpal Patel told NBC’s Kerry Sanders. Patel is in hiding after some people beat him up at Lakeland’s Southwest Complex and smeared him on Facebook. They claim he was trying to abduct a 2-year-old girl but Lakeland Police say Patel was a good Samaritan trying to help a lost child find her family.
It’s a story of mixed signals and frayed tempers. Police say a 39-year-old Lakeland man is a good Samaritan who was trying to help a lost child find her family. But the child’s 22-year-old father isn’t buying it and told reporters he has no regrets about punching the older man. His friends and family took to social media to post the 39-year-old’s photo and call him a child predator. Police say they’re convinced he was trying to be helpful and warned on Facebook (link) against posting untrue information. Fox 13 | The Ledger