A 24-year-old mother was arrested Wednesday on charges of child abandonment after police say she left her 2-year-old and 6-year-old in a Houston mall food court while she was on a job interview, Click2Houston reports. But Laura Browder says the kids were always in her line of sight and that she was never more than 30 yards away from them, per KHOU. She says she had just moved to Houston and that she didn't have time to arrange for child care before the interview, the station notes. According to Browder, she brought them to the Memorial City Mall food court, where she had arranged to meet with her interviewer, bought her kids a meal at McDonald's, and sat with them until her interview time, at which point she went to meet her potential employer. Houston police say the two kids were found crying and were brought to a security office, per Click2Houston; a police officer on the scene arrested Browder when she went to retrieve her kids, notes KHOU.
CPS is still investigating, the station notes, and while Click2Houston initially said last week that Browder's kids were released to a cousin and she was being held without bond in the Harris County Jail, it appears Browder has been released and gotten her kids back. "This was very unfortunate this happened," she says in a statement, per KHOU. "I had [an] interview with a very great company with lots of career growth. I am a college student and … would never put my name, background, or children in harms way intentionally. A judge released my children to me knowing that I was a good mother who just made a not so smart decision. This too will pass and I am not concerned with [what] outsiders have to say or what they think." (An Arizona mom left her two kids in a hot car during her job interview.)