Three days after a woman was charged with leaving her 4-year-old daughter in a vehicle for eight hours while she gambled at a casino in Anne Arundel County, police arrested a man who they said left his 6-year-old grandson in a van outside a nearby store at the start of Thursday’s snowstorm.
The two cases occurred within a half-mile of each other along Arundel Mills Circle in Hanover, which loops around a sprawling outlet mall where the Maryland Live Casino is located. Authorities said the latest incident occurred in the parking lot of a Best Buy store.
“It’s highly unusual and disappointing,” said Lt. T.J. Smith of Anne Arundel County police. “And it’s surprising because of the amount of attention the one earlier got.”
Smith said that the 6-year-old was alone in the van for 90 minutes with the temperature hovering just above freezing and snow covering the windows. “This is a common-sense thing,” Smith said. “You almost shouldn’t need laws for stuff like this.”
Both children were taken to hospitals and, other than being cold, hungry and scared, were in good health, police said. The children were given to the county’s Child Protective Services division and later turned over to other relatives, police said.
The latest incident occurred about 4:30 p.m. Thursday outside Best Buy in the 7000 block of Arundel Mills Circle. A passerby noticed that a white Chrysler Town & Country van had its flashers on and saw a boy alone inside the vehicle. The person walked by the van again about 6 p.m., saw that the child was still there and called police.
Authorities said the child was able to unlock the door and climb out of the van. Police found the boy’s mother about 7:30 p.m. after broadcasting an announcement at Best Buy.
The mother told police that the grandfather had driven to the mall with the child to pick her up and that she thought the boy was with him. Police charged Juan Carlos Calva-Diaz, 47, of Columbia with confining an unattended child and neglect of a minor. He was released from jail Friday after posting $10,000 bail, according to court records. A person who answered the phone at his house Friday said he wasn’t home and declined to comment further.
On New Year’s Eve, Anne Arundel police said, a 24-year woman left her 4-year-old daughter in a car parked on the fourth level of a garage at the Maryland Live casino. Smith said that the woman had gone inside to gamble and that it was eight hours before a security guard spotted the girl, who was standing on a child seat and crying. According to a police report, blankets covered the windows of the GMC Terrain SUV. The temperature was 34 degrees.
Police said the girl was alone from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. “There was no food or drink left . . . inside the vehicle or any means to stay warm due to the blankets covering the windows,” the police report says.
The mother told police that she had left her daughter with her 17-year-old cousin, but authorities said surveillance video did not show a third person there.
In that case, police charged Alicia Denice Brown, 24, of Baltimore with child abuse, confining an unattended child and neglect of a minor.
She was released on $150,000 bail. Brown could not be reached Friday.
Luz Lazo contributed to this report.