ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A social media post created last weekend caused quite a stir among Albertville residents, local authorities say.
The Facebook post was made on Friday, August 12 by what Albertville Police Department’s Assistant Chief John Amos called a “concerned mother.” He says the post alleged that the woman’s daughter was almost kidnapped from the parking lot of a shopping complex earlier that day.
Amos says the mother described a suspect in the post and gave a vehicle description, even posting a photo of the alleged suspect’s van.
Residents were sharing the post over and over again, with fear and uncertainty on the minds of those living in the community.
According to Amos, police didn’t learn about the incident until Sunday morning when the alleged “suspect” and his family contacted them. Amos says before that, they hadn’t received any reports of an attempted kidnapping.
Police reached out to the business named in the viral post, but Amos says they had no idea of the alleged incident, either.
“The ‘alleged suspect’ turned out to be a long-time, well-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 felt fearful for their safety due to some of the threatening comments.”
After their investigation, authorities said they found the allegations to be unfounded. Officers reported that the man was driving through the parking lot to do some shopping when he drove by the store that the alleged victim was leaving.
Police said that because the sliding door latch on his van was broken, it was common for the man to drive around with the door open. When the alleged victim saw the van coming towards her with an open door, police say she got scared because she thought it was suspicious.
Assistant Chief Amos tells News 19 that no criminal charges are expected to be filed against the person who made the original social media post.
“We…do not believe that there was any malicious intent by the person making the post,” Amos said. “The entire incident could probably best be summed up as a concerned mother who made an emotionally hasty social media posting that contained some details and assumptions that turned out to be inaccurate.”
The APD encourages citizens to be mindful of their surroundings and to 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 may cause undue alarm to the community. With that said, despite what may have been shared on social media, our Department currently has NO open kidnapping investigations. The City of Albertville is proud to have such a safe community to live, work, and shop [in]! And we are very thankful to our community members, and the members of the Albertville Police Department, who work hard each day to keep it that way!”