CARROLLTON, Ga. — The Carroll County Sheriff's Office is advising the community not to take matters into your own hands when it comes to confronting suspects in potential crimes.
The warning comes after deputies said they were notified by an Alabama man that a 64-year-old man was chatting with someone he thought was a 15-year-old boy on social media. However, it was a citizen posing as a teen.
"Explicit messages were exchanged between the two and lead to the 64-year-old male providing his phone number and address and asking the 15-year-old to come to his residence," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post.
The person posing as the teen - Mathias - traveled to the man's home and confronted him on Facebook Live in an attempt to make the public aware of the situation.
When the sheriff's office was made aware of the situation, deputies said they launched an investigation and contacted the district attorney's office.
Mathias told 11Alive his online stings have so far, helped police in various jurisdictions arrest twenty suspected pedophiles.
“Because it’s the innocence of the kids," he said. "These alleged pedophiles, or these pedophiles, that prey on our kids are taking the innocence away from them and destroying their lives.”
In the Facebook post, the sheriff's office said they appreciate the community being vigilant, however, it is best to report the information and not confront the person.
"We do emphasize for the safety of the reporter, we do not recommend confrontation with a suspect due to the seriousness of the allegations, possible injury to the complainant, and to protect the integrity of the investigation," the post said.
Investigators said after Mathias confronted the man, the man destroyed evidence, realizing he was about to be arrested.
"We appreciate anybody that wants to out someone like this, we do not want them in our county, they are not welcome here,"Carroll County Sheriff's Office Investigator Ashley Husley said.
"And when we confront people and they have time to destroy evidence in cases, it can hurt us once we get into a trial situation," she added.
Hulsey said investigators have the man under surveillance and when they do arrest him, they will then show his face and ask for all possible victims to come forward.