Police Do Not Believe Michigan Mom’s Viral Video is Human Trafficking Incident [VIDEO]
A Michigan mother posted a video to Facebook on Monday, claiming she was almost the victim of human trafficking at a Meijer store in Mason.
At the time of this post, the video has received over 1 million views.
WILX 10 reports that while police believe the incident happened, they do not believe it was a case of human trafficking.
Allison Van Loon Merkle says she was at the Mason Meijer around noon on Monday with her daughter. She says she was approached by an Indian man who put a hand on her back and asked her if she celebrated Halloween.
Merkle reports that the man began yelling about fire and hell and was fidgeting with a pocket inside his coat:
"Looking back now I think he was just looking for his needle to stab me with something to get me out of the store."
She believes the man was trying to point out she and her daughter to someone else in the store.
After loudly yelling "Thank you" in an attempt to attract attention, Merkle says the man took off. She then told Meijer employees what happened and went home and called police.
Merkle says she saw reports of similar incidents online and she posted the video to make people aware that human trafficking is real. In a comment on her video, Merkle posted,
Be safe, be vigilant and spread the awareness. It's literally an epidemic across the nation."
According to Mason Police, Merkle made a report Monday night. They say they are investigating, but that based on her account, they do not believe the incident was a human trafficking attempt. A Detective told WILX 10 that even if they do find the man who approached Merkle, he did not commit a crime.
Following a now-deleted video claiming human trafficking at a Canton Target earlier this month, CBS Local reports that Michigan State Police are trying to dispel myths about human trafficking. Michigan State Police First Lt. Michael Shaw said that most human trafficking occurs within the home:
“We never in Michigan in the last 20-some years have had any kidnapping group or people that are actually scoping out parking lots for human trafficking. You see a lot of this on Facebook and it just isn’t true... The biggest location for victims to be contacted is actually the home. Most kids are contacted online through the sexual predators that are looking for human trafficking on websites.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services urges anyone who suspects human trafficking to call 855-444-3911 at any time. If you believe there to be imminent danger, call 9-1-1.