Police: Mom left sleeping 3-year-old locked in car while shopping at Walmart

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WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A mother is accused of leaving her 3-year-old child alone in a locked vehicle outside a Pennsylvania Walmart, according to police.

Wilkes-Barre Township police told WNEP that some shoppers noticed a young child sleeping inside a vehicle with no one else with him and called 911.

Police, EMS and the township’s fire department responded.

“When we got there, there was a little boy in the back seat,” said Capt. Clyde Moyer with Wilkes-Barre Township Fire Department. “We were getting ready to pop the door open when the mom came out of Walmart.”

According to police, Rachel Johnson told officers that her 3-year-old son was sleeping when she and her three other children got to Walmart around 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Not wanting to wake the child, she and the other children went inside the store.

“That’s crazy, should not be happening. Take your kid with you,” shopper Carrie Modzelewski said.

“You leave them in the car, anybody can come and grab them,” said a woman who didn’t want to give her name. “I take my grandchildren shopping and when they say, ‘I’m not going in that store.’ I say, ‘Yes, you are, if I have to carry you in there.'"

Johnson told officers she locked the vehicle and used the remote start function to allow the car to run with the air conditioning on.

However, police say vehicles started that way will shut off after 10 minutes. Johnson said she was in the store for 20 minutes.

“On a day like today, it’s so horribly hot out,” Margeret Burke said. "It wouldn’t be great to leave a 3-year-old alone anywhere.”

Paramedics determined the child was unhurt in the incident.

Police said Johnson has been cited for leaving a child unattended and a referral has been made to Luzerne County Children and Youth.