‘Please help me’: Florida church members credited with stopping child abduction

BRANDON, Fla. — Police say the same man accused of trying to abduct two young girls in Florida was arrested days earlier in Alabama on unrelated charges.

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Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies told WFLA that two young girls, both under age 12, were leaving a restaurant in Brandon on Sunday evening when a man started following them, saying he was going to “supervise” their walk home.

“He did not know these children and these children definitely did not know him,” Jessica Lang with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told WFLA.

Deputies told the station that the suspect, identified as David Daniels, began to hit one of the children over the head while following them. The girls managed to make their way toward a church.

A woman who was outside the church, but did not want to be identified, told WTVT she knew something was wrong: “One of the little girls was mouthing to me, ‘Please help me, this is not my dad.’”

The girls continued to mouth “help me” to adults at the church, WFLA reported, who then stepped in to help and called 911.

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

Deputies told WTVT that both children believed they were being kidnapped. The woman who called 911 told the station that she just wanted to do the right thing.

“I don’t want any recognition for this. I don’t want to be a hero. I just did what I hope anybody would do for my own kids.”

Days before Daniels was arrested in Brandon, he was arrested by the Foley Police Department in Alabama after allegedly trespassing into a home, looking for an abducted child.

Police said Daniels told the homeowners who found him that he was looking for an injured child locked in a shed, WKRG reported. Investigators told the station they searched the home and determined that Daniels was under the influence of drugs when he made the claim, and no child was found.

In an email, Chief Thurston Bullock of the Foley Police Department confirmed Daniels left Foley after leaving jail to go stay with his mother, who lives in the Brandon area.