Authorities reviewing Genesee County man’s suicide in the wake of being confronted by vigilante group | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

GENESEE COUNTY, MI – A man’s death after being confronted by a vigilante group claiming to expose online predators is being investigated by local authorities, officials said Wednesday.

The Montrose Township Police Department is investigating the suicide of a man who authorities said was confronted by Michigan Maximum Exposure. The group’s cause is “online child predator prevention since 2018,” according to its Facebook page.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton told MLive Wednesday, Oct. 18, that he has been made aware of the situation and that the Montrose Township Police Department has reached out to his office.

He said a full investigation needs to be done before his office can review anything regarding possible charges in the matter, but that once that is done, they will investigate whether any laws have been broken.

According to Michigan Maximum Exposure, the group “conducted an exposure” of a man in Saginaw on Oct. 5 for attempting to pick up a child he believed was 14 years old. This followed what the group described as “lengthy and inappropriate conversations with her via Facebook messenger.”

The child was actually a decoy from Michigan Maximum Exposure. They confronted the man, he apologized and then drove away, according to the group.

A video of the confrontation was uploaded the following day. The man, who MLive is not identifying because he has not been charged with a crime, died by suicide on Oct. 8.

Michigan Maximum Exposure issued a statement on Facebook acknowledging that the group has received criticism for its work. However, the group denied taking any responsibility in the man’s death.

“I’ve read your public comments about us. I’ve seen your messages. I know you’re angry, you’re hurt and you need someone to blame. We are not the ones at fault,” the group wrote. “Every single decision that let up to this man’s death were solely his decisions and his decisions alone. We refuse to accept responsibility for another man’s actions.

“In our opinion, he is not the victim, he attempted to create a victim and on October 5th we prevented that from happening and we shared it out to the community for awareness, just as we have done the same exact way over the last 5 years. Though this is never the outcome we ever wish for, we stand firmly behind our actions.”

The actions of groups similar to Michigan Maximum Exposure are controversial, even while some of their videos have helped in prosecuting alleged predators.

In September, a man who was known to pose as an underage girl to catch sexual predators was shot and killed after apparently confronting two people in Oakland County.

Oakland County Sheriff’s Offices detectives arrested two suspects on Sept. 30 in Pontiac in the shooting death of Robert Wayne Lee.

Lee, 40, was in a Pontiac restaurant when he confronted the two suspects, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office. The situation escalated and one of the suspects fired a pistol, leaving the victim fatally wounded.

Lee was active on social media, with a Facebook page with 11,000 followers. He went by the name of “Boopac Shakur,” and was known to post as a 15-year-old girl.

His one-man crusade had led to the arrest and criminal charges being filed against several men. However, it also mistakenly identified someone as a predator when they were not, authorities said.

“While we certainly understand his desire to hold child predators accountable, many times well intentioned individuals who engaged in this don’t know the standard of evidence required for convictions and often underestimate the potential for violence confronting a suspected predator,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said shortly after Lee’s death. “They feel trapped and often lash out violently. When we have arrested predators in such circumstances, they have rammed police cars and exhibited other violent behavior in attempts to escape.”

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