A mother in Fishhawk, Florida, is breathing a sigh of relief thanks to someone who helped her children during a moment of distress.
Deputies with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 37-year-old man on two counts of false imprisonment of a child and child abuse, Fox 13 reported Monday.
The incident unfolded outside a restaurant when David Daniels allegedly told two children he was going to supervise them on their way home.
A photo shows the suspect and what appears to be the outside of the restaurant:
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Two children were riding bicycles and a man was walking behind them, according to the anonymous woman who intervened.
She was outside a local church when the incident took place. Daniels had allegedly struck one of the young children in the head and was holding the other in a headlock.
“One of the little girls mouthed to me, ‘Please help me–this is not my dad,’” she recalled.
The man had his arm around the child’s neck and told the woman he had recently moved to the area, the woman explained. She then welcomed him into the church building until she could call officials for help.
“I engaged in conversation with him,” she noted. “I said, ‘Oh that’s nice, where did you move here from?’ He said, ‘Oh, I am not really sure.’”
Social media users praised the woman for remaining calm throughout the situation.
“I’m glad those kids are ok! That woman is a hero through and through,” one person wrote, while another replied, “Thank you for being aware of what was going on around you. These two little girls probably owe you their lives!!”
When it comes to preventing abductions, parents should have boundaries for the places their children go, supervise them in public areas, choose caregivers carefully, and not dress them in clothes with their names printed on them, according to KidsHealth.org.
Per the Fox 13 report, deputies later found the suspect on his way back downtown. The woman said she did not want to be recognized as a hero but hoped fellow citizens would do the same for her children.
Officials were holding Daniels on a $104,000 bond.