Father charged after 2-year-old left alone in carjacked car

The child being reunited with family (Source: WMC Action News 5)
The child being reunited with family (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Cassandra Barnes and her son (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Cassandra Barnes and her son (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis father faces charges after his 2-year-old was left alone in a car. The car was stolen, and the child was found safe as Tennessee officials worked to issue an Amber Alert.

Memphis Police Department said the 2-year-old was taken from Jubilee Express on North Watkins Street around midnight Monday morning.

The boy's father said he left his son in the backseat of his car at the gas station when he went inside. When he came back, the car and his son were gone.

The toddler was reunited with his mother around 1:30 a.m. Monday. The toddler was found asleep in the car several miles from where the theft happened.

The boy's father, 32-year-old Donald Thomas, is charged with child endangerment and neglect.

Officers said it's part of putting more responsibility on parents to prevent a situation they see commonly, walking away with a vehicle running.

Parent Larry Denham said if that's what it takes to keep these kids safe, then it's worth it.

"I have kids and whenever I got out to go anywhere they got out and went in with me," Denham said.

Denham uses the same gas station often but said the risk is too much no matter where you are.

"Take your kids wherever you go," Denham said. "You can't take your kids, you shouldn't be going there."

Now, the mother of a 2-year-old boy left alone said her son's dad made a mistake and said she spoke to him from jail.

"He called me he told me he was very bummed about the situation," said Cassandra Barnes. "He told me what happened."

She said he asked about his son and was very apologetic.

"He said he made a mistake," Barnes said. "He didn't know what he was thinking."

Investigators are doing all they can to catch the person or people responsible for the carjacking, while Barnes urges other parents not to make the same mistake.

"It's just basically a lesson learned to be more cautious," Barnes said.

If you have any information about the carjacking, please contact Memphis police.

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