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Police: L.I. Woman Arrested After Son, 7, Left In Lego Store Unattended For Nearly 90 Minutes

EAST GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A Hempstead mother has been arrested, accused of leaving her child unsupervised at a store while she shopped at the mall.

Police said Patricia Juarez, 44, left her 7-year-old son unattended at the Lego Store at Roosevelt Field Mall in East Garden City on Tuesday.

The manager of the store realized something was amiss after approaching the child who appeared frightened, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported. The manager contacted mall security who called 911.

Police said the child had been left alone for nearly 90 minutes.

When Juarez returned to the store, she was arrested and the boy was released to a family member, police said.

Juarez was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and an unrelated warrant for petit larceny.

Patricia Juarez
Patricia Juarez (credit: Nassau County Police Department)

Relatives at Juarez's apartment in Hempstead said she was "well-meaning," and thought employees were looking out as children played, CBS 2 reported.

The manager of the Lego Store told CBS 2 it was a learning lesson for all.

However, the arrest has sparked a suburban debate, McLogan reported.

"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," Diane Groumbas said.

Others debated whether it was an honest mistake in judgment.

"To arrest her versus talking to her, I think is a little bit much," another shopper, David Sosa, said.

"It's very hard. I feel sorry for the mother, I feel sorry for the kid," another shopper, Hale Storm, said.

For now, the child is with his grandparents, CBS 2 reported.

The judge issued an order of protection against Juarez and she must stay away from her son until her next court date.

Juarez is being held on $3,000 bail and is set to be arraigned on Wednesday.

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