Florida churchgoers save 2 girls from man who followed them


(NewsNation) — A group of church parishioners in Florida rescued two children from an alleged kidnapping attempt, and are now being thanked by the local sheriff’s office.

David Daniels, 37, is in a Tampa-area jail, charged with two counts of false imprisonment of a child and child abuse, according to local news station FOX 13. Hillsborough County deputies said he approached two girls under the age of 12 at a restaurant and told them he would supervise their walk home.

The girls and Daniels didn’t know each other, Jessica Lang, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, said. But he would not stop following them.

Lang said as he walked behind them, he started hitting one of the girls over the head. The two girls stuck together and rode their bikes to a church that Daniels also entered.

Johanna, one of the churchgoers, said the girls came up to her vehicle outside, mouthing, “This is not my dad, please help me.”

“That’s immediately when I knew something was wrong,” she said.

Daniels was right behind them, trying to act like the children were his, saying they were new to the area and wanted to help out at the church, Johanna told NewsNation.

Johanna’s son, Brendan, was mowing the lawn outside the church, and saw the girls with his mother. He gave his mom a thumbs-up to see if everything was OK, and she shook her head.

When he realized something was going on, Brendan went over to his mom. The kids were with her, with Daniels about 20 feet behind them, he said.

Brendan called the police, and in the meantime, talked to Daniels about hockey in an attempt to distract him. Kyra, Johanna’s daughter, took this as an opportunity to move the girls as far away from Daniels as possible.

“I could tell just by their faces they were terrified,” Kyra said.

Deputies arrested Daniels not far from that church.

“Members of this church really stepped up to protect children that were not theirs,” Lang told NewsNation local affiliate WFLA. “They saw that something was wrong and they saved these children.”

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