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Father accused of leaving son, 6, in vehicle for hours arrested

Father free on bond

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HOUSTON – A Houston father who was wanted after police said he left his 6-year-old son alone in a car for six hours earlier this month was arrested Wednesday.

Darnell Washington, 38, was released from jail Thursday after paying a $5,000 bond.

The incident was reported the evening of March 1 in the parking lot of a tattoo parlor on State Highway 6 near Memorial Drive.

According to court documents, a man told police that he noticed a boy alone inside a SUV in the parking lot that afternoon, and he kept checking on the boy to make sure he was OK. The man said that several hours later, the owner of a neighboring shop brought the child inside the tattoo parlor, and looked for his parents. The owner said the boy was found wandering in his parking lot.

The boy told police that his father had left him alone in the car for six hours, according to court documents.

The child was placed in the custody of Child Protective Services after no one showed up to pick him up, according to the documents.

Witnesses told KPRC 2 they saw the boy, alone and inside the SUV, but they didn’t think anything of it at first.

“The car was still on, and we thought his dad was inside the business,” said Diamond Hawkins, who works at the Sintown Tattoo Studios.

A few hours later, Hawkins said, he and his co-workers spotted the boy again and became concerned. He said they eventually called the police and invited the boy inside.

"He was really shy at first,” said John Ridley, who also works at the tattoo shop. “He had a little food and we put him in front of the TV and he got accustomed to us. He opened up a bit and told us his name.”

“He didn’t know where his dad was,” Hawkins said. “He didn’t know where he lived, or his phone number, or anything. We looked for his dad and couldn’t find him anywhere, so somebody called the cops.”

According to court documents, Washington admitted during an interview with police that he passed out in an alley behind the store after drinking. He said that when he came to it was dark and his child and vehicle were gone, according to the documents. He said he then passed out again, according to the documents.

Washington told police that he later found out where his son was when he called his father and was told that police had already called him, according to the court documents.

Washington was charged with endangering a child. He is expected in court Thursday.

KPRC 2 has learned that the boy is staying with family friends.