ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A social media post created last weekend has caused a stir among Albertville residents, according to local authorities.
The Facebook post was posted Friday, August 12 by what Albertville Police Department Deputy Chief John Amos called a “concerned mother.” He says the message alleged that the woman’s daughter was almost kidnapped from the parking lot of a shopping complex earlier in the day.
Amos says the mother described a suspect in the post and gave a description of the vehicle, even posting a photo of the alleged suspect’s van.
Residents shared the post again and again, with fear and uncertainty in the minds of people living in the community.
According to Amos, police only learned of the incident on Sunday morning when the alleged “suspect” and his family contacted them. Amos says that prior to this, they had not received any reports of attempted abductions.
Police contacted the company named in the viral post, but Amos says they had no idea about the alleged incident either.
“The ‘alleged suspect’ turned out to be a long-time and highly respected member of our community,” Albertville police said in a Facebook post. “He and his family were deeply upset by the allegations circulating on social media, and even feared for their safety due to some of the threatening comments.”
After their investigation, authorities said they concluded the allegations were unfounded. Officers reported the man was crossing the parking lot to shop when he passed the store the alleged victim was leaving.
Police said because the latch on his van’s sliding door was broken, it was common for the man to drive with the door open. When the alleged victim saw the van coming towards her with an open door, police said she was scared because they thought it was suspicious.
Deputy Chief Amos told News 19 that no criminal charges should be filed against the person who made the original social media post.
“We … do not believe there was any malicious intent on the part of the person who posted the message,” Amos said. “The whole incident could probably be summed up as a concerned mother posting an emotionally hasty social media post containing details and assumptions that turned out to be inaccurate.”
The APD encourages citizens to be aware of their surroundings and report anything suspicious directly to them by calling 256-878-1212 or 911 in an emergency.
In their Facebook post addressing the incident, APD said the following:
“Social media can be a great tool, but as we have determined in this situation, it can also quickly spread misinformation that can unduly alarm the community. That said, despite what may have been shared on social media , our Department currently has NO open investigation into the kidnappings The City of Albertville is proud to have such a safe community to live, work and shop [in]! And we are so grateful to the members of our community and the members of the Albertville Police Department, who work hard every day to make it happen!
Suggest a fix