Woman admits to lying in viral post about attempted abduction at Pasco Walmart
PASCO, Wash. — Police say a woman who wrote a Facebook post about an attempted child abduction at the Pasco Walmart admitted to “embellishing a lot” and “lying about contacting the police.”
The post said that the woman became alarmed by several men inside the Walmart who were on their cell phones Friday evening. The post said the men were looking at the woman’s 12-year-old daughter, and it implied that they were part of a sex trafficking ring.
It says one of the men started following them around the store, causing the woman to panic, abandon her shopping cart and run to her car while half-carrying her daughter. It says she sat in the car crying for a while.
The woman claimed that she contacted the police, but there is no record of her doing so.
“In reality, they purchased their items, pushed the cart out to the car, and drove off,” police said.
Police said the fictitious post gathered more than 1,600 shares on Facebook. The woman deleted it on Monday, shortly after officers spoke to her.
Surveillance footage revealed that the man accused of following the pair was actually stationary while playing on his phone, police said. The footage shows him glancing up at the woman and her daughter, stepping out of their way and continuing to stand in one spot playing on his phone.
When police interviewed the woman a second time, she told them she embellished a lot of the store and lied about contacting the police because she “feared being judged harshly by commenters,” police said.
Then on Sunday, after the woman’s post from the previous Friday went viral, a second person wrote a third-hand report of a stranger telling a father that three men were watching his daughter at the same Walmart.
The post appears to provide a baseless claim that Pasco is one of the top cities in the U.S. for this kind of behavior. This alleged incident was never reported to the police either.
“If you see something, say something. Do it immediately,” police said. “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Don’t blindly repost things on social media without some effort to verify it. It’s often done with the best intentions, but it spreads like wildfire.”