A group of concerned citizens is working anonymously to catch potential predators.
Their most recent attempt left one man behind bars.
Justin Fountain, 41, is accused of trying to commit a heinous crime using his own 2-year-old child.
He thought he was meeting up with a 15-year-old Friday morning in Caro, but he was actually communicating with someone from the group 989 Child Predator Exposures. The group uses social media to catch child predators in Michigan.
“Not only did he continue the conversation, but shortly after we told him we were underage he actually made the conversation go to a sexual nature,” a member of the group said.
The member wanted to remain anonymous for her safety and the safety of other members of the group. She said Fountain reached out to them shortly after they set up the fake profile of a 15-year-old.
They were communicating with Fountain for about two weeks when the man said he wanted to meet the 15-year-old. In a disturbing twist, he wanted to bring two toddlers along.
“He had expressed earlier this week possibly taking a child that him and his wife babysat along with their child to the meet,” the member said.
The group typically doesn’t involve police when setting up meets and exposing predators through online videos, but they felt compelled to after hearing Fountain not only wanted to hook up with a teen, but involve a pair of 2-year-olds.
“So at that point the whole 989 team kinda became concerned with child endangerment and he’s taking a toddler to meet someone he believes is underage,” the member said.
The meeting was supposed to happen at a local Taco Bell, but Michigan State Police stepped in before Fountain could get there.
“Detectives arrested the subject following an investigation which led to a traffic stop on M-81 in the city of Caro. The investigation is currently ongoing,” MSP Lt. David Kaiser said.
The child was taken into police protective custody.
"Doesn't really change the charges at that point in time, but it certainly is an extraordinary cause for concern. The fact that you'd involve a 2-year-old child in that type of activity when you think you're going to meet a 15-year-old to engage in a variety of conduct. It's an extraordinary concern," Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene said.
Fountain has been charged with 15 counts of using a computer to commit a crime, and 15 counts of accosting a minor for immoral purposes.
Fountain's bond was set at $200,000.
The news is troublesome for Fountain's neighbors in Mayville.
"It is pretty shocking," said Andy Banks, neighbor. "It is kind of surreal to think somebody so close to home in a small community."
As for Reene, he stresses the urge for groups like 989 to keep police informed.
"It's different, but that's why it's important if you're engaging in those types of discussions you want to loop in law enforcement as quickly as possible. You want to be sure they're not at risk," Reene said.