A Long Island mom was arrested Tuesday after allegedly leaving her son unattended in a store while she shopped elsewhere in a Nassau County, New York mall.
Police say Patricia Juarez left her 7-year-old son alone at the mall’s Lego Store for about 90 minutes while she shopped at other stores in the Garden City mall.
The manager of the store reportedly first noticed the boy because he appeared frightened.
“The store's manager, who became concerned for the well-being of the unsupervised child, contacted mall security, who called 911,” police told Newsday.
Police arrested Juarez when she returned to the store after she was done shopping.
She was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Police also discovered she had an outstanding warrant for petit larceny.
Her son was released to the custody of his grandparents.
Relatives told CBS 2 of New York that Juarez was “well-meaning” and believed that employees of the Lego Store were looking out for the children while they played.
Shoppers in the store disputed that claim.
“There’s no way, shape or form that managers knew they were watching this child, nor should [they] be responsible,” shopper Alison LaMirata said.
“This is a very selfish mom. She should have been watching her son, he’s only 7 years old,” said Diane Groumbas, who was also at the store.
But there was debate among shoppers as to whether she should have been arrested for leaving the child.
“To arrest her versus talking to her, I think is a little bit much,” David Sosa said.
“It’s very hard. I feel sorry for the mother, I feel sorry for the kid,” said shopper Hale Storm.
Juarez was arraigned Wednesday at First District Court of Hempstead for the child endangerment charge. She remains in custody. Her bail was set at $3,000 bond or $1,500 cash.
The judge issued an order of protection against Juarez which prevents her from seeing her son until her next court date.