Woman accused of leaving child in locked car for 3 hours in Fort Lauderdale

Incident occurred Tuesday in parking lot of BJ's Wholesale Club, police say

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A South Florida woman was arrested Thursday, two days after she left her child inside a locked car in the parking lot of a BJ’s Wholesale Club in Fort Lauderdale, authorities said.

After reviewing surveillance video from the business, Fort Lauderdale police believe the incident was intentional and arrested Shantrell Erica Mitchell, 32, of Lauderhill, on an aggravated child abuse charge. 

According to an arrest report, the victim, whose age was not disclosed by authorities, was strapped into a car seat in Mitchell's vehicle while Mitchell shopped for about three hours Tuesday at the BJ’s at 5100 NW Ninth Ave.

Police said Mitchell purchased 31 items from the store before going back to her vehicle and getting into the driver's seat.

Surveillance video shows her then picking up her unresponsive child from the back seat and attempting to cool the child while flagging down nearby patrons and a BJ's employee, who called 911, authorities said.

Responding officers said Mitchell claimed she had tried to get relatives to watch her child before she went to the store, but no one was available. She said she then forgot that her child was in the car while she was shopping, authorities said.

According to the arrest report, Mitchell told officers she placed her child in front of the AC and poured iced tea on the child's head. She said she also had the child drink some of the iced tea. 

The child, who police said had a temperature of 105 degrees and was having febrile seizures that occur from high body temperature, was first taken to Holy Cross Hospital and was then transferred to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital for further treatment.

Police said the child's condition drastically improved due to the medical attention the child received just in time. 

According to the arrest report, police reviewed surveillance video from the BJ's, which showed Mitchell parking her car before getting out, opening each door of her vehicle and manually locking each one.

The only door that wasn't opened was the front passenger seat because Mitchell pulled the door handle and it was already locked, authorities said. 

Despite the video showing Mitchell opening the door to the side of the car where her child was sitting and manually locking the door, she denied intentionally leaving her child in the car, police said.

Mitchell appeared in court Friday and was ordered held in lieu of a $10,000 bond.

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