Law enforcement officials said a viral Facebook post about an attempted child abduction at Walmart was untrue, Riley County Police Department spokeswoman Hali Rowland said.
On Saturday, Joshua Hatley, a Manhattan man, posted a photo on Facebook, with information claiming a woman attempted to abduct a child at Walmart, 101 Bluemont Ave. The photo included a picture of the woman and her license plate. In total, the post was shared over 11,000 times.
After the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office and RCPD investigated the incident and footage, officers found the alleged attempted abduction did not occur. Both agencies investigated because Walmart falls in a joint jurisdiction area, even though it is in Pottawatomie County.
“Several days ago, my wife and her sister were shopping with out two sons at Walmart,” Hatley told RCPD. “In the course of their shopping, my sister in law claimed there was an incident involving another woman attempting to abduct our youngest child. As a result of the circumstances at the time, we believed this to be true, as my wife did not see the events unfold with her own eyes. This was shared as a warning post on Facebook and quickly went viral.”
Hatley said he also reviewed the footage and said they saw their son was not in danger.
“The woman involved, and her family, are completely innocent and we would like to apologize to them. We believed there was real danger present, and did what we thought was necessary to help mitigate the issue,” Hatley said. “We are truly sorry for any damage that may have been caused by this event, and we hope you understand that there was no malicious or ill intent behind our actions.”
RCPD urges anyone who feels they or their children are in danger to contact the police department by calling 911.