Police say child left alone at gas station was misunderstanding
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -
UPDATE: Columbus Police have reached the woman accused by witnesses of leaving a child at a gas station and they have decided that this is a misunderstanding. According to a detective, a family was traveling from Missouri to Fort Benning in two cars, and the 5-year-old was left behind due to a mix up about which car he was traveling in. Each car's occupants thought the boy was in the other one. Police have decided not to file criminal charges against anyone related to this matter.
ORIGINAL STORY: Witnesses said the boy became very emotional when he realized he was left alone and he began crying out for his mother.
"A couple of minutes later, the kid came out of the store hollering, panicking, asking, 'where is my momma?' I said 'oh my gosh, she done left this kid!'"
Kenner Butler described the moment he realized a woman wasn't coming back for the boy she left at the Crown Gas Station on South Lumpkin Road. It was about 12:30 p.m. when employees said she walked into the store holding the boy's hand, then casually left without saying a word.
"So I calmed him down and said, 'hey man, it's going to be alright. We're going to take care of you. I took him back in the store and everyone was trying to calm him down, but he was just hysterical. He was in a panic," said Butler.
Employees said the woman in this surveillance video grabbed drinks out of the cooler and set them on the counter as if she was going to buy something, but then she slipped away without finishing the transaction. At first, witnesses wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.
"[We thought she] just accidentally left him, you know, something going on, but as time went on and the cops were here, it was like: 'No, she did it on purpose,'" said witness, Diana Hicks.
"At some point, she had to know that she wasn't with her," said onlooker, Annie Williams.
By the time police finished their initial report and took the boy into their custody, more than two hours passed and there was still no sign of the woman.
"as a mother, I don't know how you could do something like this. I'd be freaking out if I left my kid somewhere," said Hicks.