Father accused of leaving 2-year-old alone in van at Augusta Mall

Father accused of leaving 2-year-old alone in van at Augusta Mall

A 27-year-old father was arrested Tuesday after Richmond County deputies said he left his 2-year-old son alone in a van parked at the Augusta Mall.

Tyrone Tyson Thomas of Girard, Ga. is charged with deprivation of a minor, according to a Richmond County Sheriff's Office incident report.

A deputy responded to the mall at 7:55 p.m. A mall security officer said he was standing outside when a passerby told him about a toddler alone in a van.

The security officer found the child in the back seat of the van with the windows up and the doors unlocked, according to the report. He took the child out of the van and into his custody for safety. Mall security contacted the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

After the Richmond County deputy arrived, he watched surveillance footage and saw the van pull into the parking lot at 7:38 p.m., according to the report. A man got out of the van and entered the mall alone.

At 7:47 p.m., the mall security officer is seen walking the child away from the van, according to the report. A few minutes later, the man - later identified as Thomas - is seen getting back into the van along with other people. They left the parking lot at 7:53 p.m. without the child.

A witness to the incident flagged Thomas down on Wrightsboro Road and told him that the mall officers had the child in custody, according to the report. The witness said Thomas didn't mention contacting authorities.

Thomas later told deputies that he knew the child was missing as soon as he got back to the van and was on the way to the sheriff's office to file a report.

The 2-year-old was alone for seven minutes and was unharmed, deputies said. The Department of Family and Children Services was notified, and the child was released to his mother.

Thomas was arrested and booked at the Richmond County jail.

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