When a young girl mouthed “Please help me, this is not my dad” to a Florida churchgoer, the congregant took action and saved two girls from certain danger.
According to local news station WFLA, members of a church in the FishHawk Ranch area in Tampa Bay, Fla., helped to stop the abduction of two young girls, both under the age of 12, on Sunday.
WFLA, who spoke to deputies from Hillsborough County, reported the two girls were leaving a restaurant just after 6 p.m. “when a man started following them and insisted he would ‘supervise’ their walk home.”
According to police records, the man (who was later arrested) was identified as David Daniels, 37.
Jessica Lang, the public relations coordinator for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, told WFLA the girls did not know Daniels, and Daniels did not know the girls.
Nevertheless, Daniels allegedly followed the girls out of the restaurant before he started to “hit one of the children over the head” and continued his pursuit of the minors.
The girls, who were apparently on their bikes, rode to a local church.
“Thankfully these children stuck together and rode their bikes to a nearby church and asked an adult for help,” Lang told WFLA.
Daniels allegedly followed the girls into the church and told congregants inside they were his daughters.
Deputies told WFLA Daniels placed one of the girls in a headlock.
It was then that one of the girls mouthed her request for help to the nearby, unnamed churchgoer who called 911, Fox 13 reported.
“Members of this church really stepped up to protect children that were not theirs,” Lang told WFLA. “They saw that something was wrong and they saved these children.”
Following the 911 call, deputies quickly arrived and arrested Daniels.
He has been charged with two counts of child abuse and two counts of false imprisonment.
Daniels’ bond was set to US$104,000.
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