GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) – A Rockville mother is out on bail after police say she went on a shopping spree at Lakeforest Mall, leaving her 7-year-old son and puppy in a searing-hot car. Joshalin Evans, 30, is now facing three charges related to the incident.
Around 12:30 p.m. Monday, a shopper noticed a child and dog sitting in Evans' white Nissan Sentra. Because the air temperature was hovering around 90 degrees, the woman called 911. Responding officers took the boy to a cool squad car, where they gave him a bottle of water and interviewed him about his mother's whereabouts.
According to Montgomery County District Court charging documents, the child was found “very sweaty” and “seated in direct sunlight,” while the shepherd-mix puppy had signs of “heat exhaustion” and “was acting lethargic.”
The child told officers his mother had left water for the dog, but not for him. The boy also reportedly confessed that his mother regularly leaves him unattended inside vehicles for prolonged periods of time.
Gaithersburg Animal Control also responded to the scene, and took the shepherd-mix puppy to its facilities for animal abuse testing.
After numerous failed mall announcements, police took Evans' son into the shopping center, where he quickly spotted his mother. Police say Evans, who, according to a talent website, models in her spare time, had been shopping for at least 90 minutes. However, she told officers, "she came into the mall real quick."
On Thursday, parents expressed their dismay over the incident.
"That's very sad," said Kelemow Abege, who has three children, ages 10, 12 and 15. "I don't have any idea how people do stuff like this. I don't know how."
“I almost have no words for that,” said father Omar Hayat. “It’s just unbearable to even think in that kind of heat. I mean, that child could have died, and the dog, too.”
ABC 7 News went to Evans’ Rockville condominium along the 5200 block of Crossfield Drive on Thursday afternoon, but the 30-year-old was in no mood to talk.
“Unbelievable ... I can’t even come up with any kind of reason why that would seem like a good idea, ever,” said Arch Alcantara, Evans’ next-door neighbor.
“It’s hurtful to think that someone could actually do that, just to go shopping in the mall,” Hayat added. “I mean, what’s wrong with taking your little one inside with you?”
Evans’ Rockville-based defense attorney, Rebecca Nitkin, told ABC 7 News her client had parked her car in the shade with the windows down, but that the sun moved while she was inside the mall, putting the vehicle in direct sunlight.
“[Evans] had no intent to do anything wrong and did nothing neglectful,” Nitkin said. “The allegations are overwhelming and shocking to her.”
Nitkin added that Evans had left water and food for the dog, and Gatorade, food and a cell phone for her son. Nitkin says Evans’ son did not want to go inside the mall.
"My client's question is, 'What is the difference between being outside in the hot sun, and being in a shaded car with Gatorade and a cell phone?'" Nitkin stated. "But you learn, and she's not going to repeat this."
Police have charged Evans with second-degree attempted child abuse, reckless endangerment and neglect of a minor. If Evans is found guilty on all three counts, a judge could sentence her to up to 25 years in state prison.