AUSTIN - Police allege a woman left her two children in a hot car for more than an hour while she got her nails done and shoplifted from a south Austin Wal-Mart last year.
According to an affidavit dated April 5, police say they were called to the Wal-Mart near East Ben White and Interstate 35 around 1:55 p.m. May 5, 2016 for a report of two children – a 21-month old and a 3-year-old – left in a hot vehicle. Witnesses alerted Wal-Mart employees, and the affidavit states the 3-year-old was able to unlock the door so they could be taken inside. A fireman noted the interior temperature of the car was 100°F several minutes after the vehicle was opened.
Police say they were able to identify Raquel Perez, 26, as the victims’ mother when she came into the store looking for her children. The affidavit states Perez told police she left her children in the car because they were asleep.
Using surveillance cameras, police established Perez parked at the store shortly around 12:45 p.m. and walked into the Wal-Mart. After exiting the store around 10 minutes later, she reentered the store and went to the nail salon.
Edward Alcoser and his co-worker heard the kids in the car before they saw them.
"We went closer to the car to see there were two kids crying up a storm and totally drenched in their own perspiration," Alcoser said. "It just felt wrong and we needed to do something about it."
Police say while Perez was getting her nails done and shoplifting, Alcoser's co-worker went to get help while he dialed 911.
He added "I was really upset and a bit angry. You don't do this to kids, you just don't," Alcoser said.
The affidavit states around 2:05 p.m., surveillance video captured Perez leaving the nail salon and proceed to shoplift from the store. Police said Perez activated the anti-theft sensors around 2:25 p.m. and placed items in her car before returning to the store to ask about her children.
Police have charged Perez with endangering a child, a state jail felony.
A year later, Alcoser said he doesn't feel like a hero, he's just happy the police were finally able to gather enough evidence to arrest Perez.
"I'm just grateful that we were there and willing to do something about it, not to just let them suffer in the car. Who knows how long it would've lasted?" Alcoser said.
Both children are in the custody of relatives, according to Child Protective Services (CPS).
KVUE spoke to police about why it took a year to bring charges against Perez, officials said it was required in order to interview all witnesses and cooperate with CPS.
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