Mother charged with leaving young children at home alone

6:43 PM, Nov 7, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- A 22-year old Atlanta mother faces charges for allegedly leaving her two young children at home alone, in a dark house without electricity.

Police arrested Shantonia Heard Tuesday night, when she came home to her apartment on Confederate Court in SE Atlanta. According to the police report, a security guard noticed the unit's back door open and went inside to make sure everything was alright.

Inside he found a six-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister, under the covers in a bedroom. There was no electricity to the unit. But the gas oven was on and the door left open.

"You're supposed to know better," said Marquita Crudup, a neighbor with a six year old boy of her own. "I would be worried about the house burning down, if he would open the door for someone. I just don't understand," she said.

Police say Heard told them she had gone to her cousin's apartment down the street to charge her cell phone. The police officer on scene said he was there for at least an hour before she returned, long enough to call EMS and have the children checked out before calling DFCS. According to the report, obtained by 11Alive, the children were in good health.

"When I heard about it tears came to my eyes, cuz I have grandchildren," said Augusta Little, who lives near Heard.

Heard's family says this is all a misunderstanding. One of Heard's cousins told 11Alive, she was only gone a few minutes and didn't want to wake the children.

Heard was arrested for child cruelty, but on Wednesday a judge reduced it to reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.

Neighbors, used to seeing police respond to domestic violence calls, shootings or burglaries in the complex say something about this call upset them more.

"I was more heartbroken that a child was in the house with no power, no nothing, with younger siblings. It hurt, I wanted to cry. Like it really hurt," said Cudrup.

Another woman was arrested with Heard Tuesday night. Atlanta police say they took 17-year old Angel Smith into custody for an outstanding arrest warrant in College Park.

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