Lynne Perry was unsettled after a recent trip to the Publix Grocery store, and like many, she posted about her experience on social media. WKRG reports that Perry is now walking back her claims that there were human trafficking rings operating out of several retail locations in Pinellas County, Florida.
In her video, Perry mentions that she was followed around a Publix Grocery store on an August afternoon. The man was so aggressive in his following, she said, that she was eventually forced to confront him. Perry did not file a police report or report the man to story authorities at the time of the incident. WFLA reports that after that incident, she saw a similar thing occur to another woman while shopping at Earth Origins Market.
Shaken by the coincidence, Perry decided to go live with a video on Facebook.
"I had a man follow me all through the store. I want everyone to be safe," she said. "Please share this video, everyone needs to know."
Perry then went to bed, feeling good about warning others of the potential danger. She didn't expect her video to amass well over 11 million views, or for the local news stations and sheriff's office to question her. The Sheriff's Department of Pinellas County said they have not investigated a report of human trafficking in over 18 months.
But women responded to the video. They added details, saying they had seen men stalking other female shoppers, then joining up with groups of men. Regardless of what authorities were saying, Perry's video had struck a chord and female shoppers were lining up to agree with her warning.
"There is no evidence to suggest the suspicious person complaints referenced in the video are related to human trafficking," said the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department in a statement.
Perry agrees that human trafficking may not have been the right term to describe what she experienced and what other women have witnessed, but she stands by her story that something nefarious is going on. She knows she has witnessed stalking behavior, and is glad her warning may help some other women to avoid what she experienced.
Although the backlash has been extreme, with some angry comments reducing her to tears, Perry says she would still post the video if given the chance to do it over. Warning people, she said, is what is truly important. She hopes she may have saved a life.