CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island father faced child endangerment charges Tuesday, after allegedly leaving his two children locked in a car in the cold while he went shopping.
As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, Luis Fajardo, 32, walked out of court a free man with his wife by his side after he was released on a recognizance bond by a judge Tuesday. He had spent one night in jail.
Police said late on Monday afternoon, Fajardo parked his vehicle at the Patchogue Village Shopping Center and left his 5-year-old and 5-month-old sons inside while he went shopping. The outside temperature was approximately 25 degrees at the time of the incident, police said.
CBS 2 spoke with Fajardo’s 5-year-old son, who said, “Yes,” when asked if he was OK. When asked if he was scared, his mother and defendant Fajardo’s girlfriend, Luz, answered for the boy and said he was not scared.
But while Luz and her son may not think it is a big deal, authorities do.
“He was into the phone store buying a phone card, and said he was only in there for 2 minutes,’” said Suffolk County police Inspector Aristides Mojica. “The concern he expressed was, ‘What am I supposed to do? I was only out for 2 minutes. I didn’t want to take the kids out in the cold.’”
But police said the 2-minute explanation was inaccurate, since a witness called 911 around 5:35 p.m. Monday, and said Fajardo returned to his 1999 Mazda sedan in the Patchogue village parking lot a total of 20 minutes later.
When Fajardo returned, officers arrested him. They later learned he doesn’t have a driver’s license or insurance for the car, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
Fajardo has no criminal record and has never been arrested. Upon his release, and had little to say.
But his girlfriend, who came to pick him up, was quick to come to his defense later at their home.
“He’s a good father,” said Luz, who did not want her last name used.
Family friends said Fajardo works around the clock to support his family.
“It wasn’t his intention to do anything bad,” a family friend said, adding that Fajardo didn’t know it was illegal to leave his children unattended.
He has been charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and is due back in court next month.
In court, a judge stopped short of ordering Fajardo to stay away from his children, but said he is not allowed to drive them anyplace until the case is resolved, Brown reported.
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