The identities of all parties involved have not been released, but the accused molester is said to be a 47-year-old ranch hand from Gonzales who was "not well-known, if all, to the father and child," and had no prior criminal record.
According to Sheriff Micah Harmon, the toddler was behind the barn with the alleged abuser while the rest of her family was "tending to horses." The father claims he heard screaming from the barn and arrived to find the man molesting his daughter. He reacted by striking him in the head repeatedly.
Paramedics later pronounced the man dead at the scene, and the girl was transported to a local hospital for observation. Sheriff Harmon said the girl was "OK besides the obvious mental trauma."
No arrests or charges have yet been made.
"You have a right to defend your daughter," Harmon said. "He acted in defense of his third person. Once the investigation is completed we will submit it to the district attorney who then submits it to the grand jury, who will decide if they will indict him."
The father is said to be "Very remorseful," and claims he didn't intend to kill the man.
Many online voiced support for the father's actions. "Good for him, dad protecting his daughter!" read the top comment on CNN. Said another popular commenter: "This father is a hero and nothing less."