A Massachusetts man was arrested Thursday night for allegedly misleading police with false claims of an attempted child abduction at a popular Wareham water park — claims the park says hurt business.
Matthew McGonnigal of Weymouth allegedly told investigators that he stopped a little girl from being kidnapped in the parking lot of Water Wizz last Saturday.
"Wareham PD never heard of the incident, and neither did Water Wizz," said Wareham Police Chief Kevin Walsh.
Chief Walsh says he doesn't know why McGonnigal would make up the story. He says police were tipped off when McGonnigal's girlfriend posted on Facebook calling him a "hero" for his alleged actions.
She said that McGonnigal went back to the car to put their phones away, and that's when he heard a little girl screaming for help.
Online praise came pouring in, but police could find no records or witnesses of the alleged attempted kidnapping.
"It purported him to be a hero and looking into it further, because of the nature of a child abducion incident, we'd definitely want to look into that," said the chief.
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When police talked to McGonnigal, they also say he allegedly secretly audiotaped police.
On Facebook, Water Wizz calls the false allegations "vicious and destructive," and they thanked their loyal customers for standing by them.
The Water Wizz gate manager says the hoax cost them a lot of money because customers became worried.
Walsh says the water park has always worked with the police department to maintain a "safe atmosphere."
McGonnigal is now charged with unlawful wiretapping, false report of a crime and impeding a police investigation.