DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) – Lynne Knowles never thought her video would go viral.
In fact, she’s shocked by the attention it has received.
She posted the video for friends on Facebook. Her intentions, she told us, came straight from the heart. Her mission was simple.
She said she wanted to warn women.
But, her words, she claims, were misconstrued by the public. Now, she’s setting the record straight.
“I don’t regret anything that I did,” Lynne told WFLA Tuesday evening. “What I did was warn women. I wanted to help.”
Lynne recorded the video after she says she was followed by a man in Publix near her home on Curlew Road in Dunedin. Then, while shopping at Earth Origins Market on Sunday, she saw another woman go through the same thing.
That’s when she knew she had to do something.
Lynne admits she was scared, rattled and shocked when she hit record on her cell phone that day. In the video, she talked directly into the camera and explained what happened.
“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.”
She had no way of knowing what would happen next.
“I went to bed that night feeling good about it, actually,” she explained. “Then, today, is another story. It’s been on and off, good and bad. But, in the end, I know what I did was right.”
When Lynne shared her story about a community creeper, her friends reached out with similar situations.
They told her the same thing happened to them.
Her friends and neighbors claimed, they too, have been followed in the past at various places in Pinellas County.
“I’m still shaken and rattled it’s going on. And, it’s absolutely going on,” she said.
As Lynne and her friends compared details, there seemed to be a common theme: a man following them, who then joined other men nearby.
The women likened it to possible human trafficking, which Lynne mentioned in her Facebook post.
It is a theory the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office maintains is not true.
They released a statement saying, “There is no evidence to suggest the suspicious person complaints referenced in the video are related to human trafficking.”
Lynne says she stands by her story 100 percent.
“The truth is the truth,” she told us.
Her post has been viewed millions of views, containing hundreds of positive comments.
There were also bad ones.
At first, Lynne tried to answer everyone who posted a comment. Then, some of the feedback became so negative and so vicious, she stopped.
She was heartbroken.
She was accused of scaring people through fear-mongering, even “making it all up,” which she says is totally and completely false.
“I just wanted to help people,” she told us. “Let’s help each other, let’s be alert, let’s be aware of what’s going on around us. And, share it with your friends, so they’ll know as well.”
In the end, Lynne says if she had to do it all over again, would she?
She hopes her words and her video may have saved a life.