(LAWRENCE, Kan.) — Five Kansas children are in protective custody after the two youngest were found bound and blindfolded in a far corner of a Walmart parking lot.
The family appeared to have been temporarily living in the vehicle where the windows had been covered with clothing and cardboard. In addition to the tied-up children, police discovered three other children inside the car. The parents have been arrested for child abuse and endangerment.
Authorities are investigating the mysterious circumstances around the strange discovery.
On Wednesday, police in Lawrence, Kan., responded to a Walmart after a caller reported seeing what appeared to be a young child bound and blindfolded outside of a car.
Police found two children, ages 5 and 7, bound outside of the car.
“Their legs were bound, their arms were bound behind their backs and they were wearing, at the minimum, blindfolds,” Lawrence police Sgt. Trent McKinley told ABC News Thursday.
McKinley did not know if the children’s mouths were covered.
The officer spotted an adult male, now identified as Adolfo Gomez, in the vicinity of the car and tried to make contact with him. Gomez, 52, resisted the officer’s contact and when the officer tried to detain him, the man suddenly tried to get back in the vehicle.
Officers deployed a Taser to subdue Gomez and take him into custody.
The police then located three other children, ages 12, 13 and 15. McKinley could not comment on what police have discovered from speaking to the children.
Authorities then learned that a woman, believed to be the children’s mother, was shopping inside of the Walmart. Deborah Gomez, 43, was located inside the store and taken into custody.
The family said they were traveling from their home in Northlake, Ill., to visit relatives in Arizona. Their vehicle apparently experienced mechanical problems on Monday night, which forced them to stop at the Walmart.
Police believe the family stayed in the Walmart parking lot between Monday and the arrests on Wednesday morning.
In terms of whether it appeared that the family had been living in the car, McKinley said, “Certainly, at least on a temporary basis. We don’t have any information that indicated that they spent the night at a hotel.”
Walmart is cooperating with police and sharing surveillance footage from the parking lot, though McKinley said the car was parked at the fringe of security camera range.
The couple was expected to make their first court appearance on Thursday afternoon.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kathryn Vasel, CNN
Karen Banes, FamilyShare
Ralph Ellis, CNN
Christina Zdanowicz, CNN Newswire