GASTONIA, N.C. — Police have charged a mother following a shocking discovery early Thursday in Gastonia.
Someone called 911 after they found a 4-year-old boy alone in the middle of the night, with no clothes on.
That 911 caller spotted the boy around 12:30 a.m. on Union Road, near Betty Street. They told police he was alone, naked and riding a tricycle.
“I have a report of a little boy that turned in the middle of the road at Remedies (night club) with nothing -- no clothes,” a dispatcher can be heard telling a police officer. “Can you check?”
Officers arrived within minutes and found the child riding his bike in the middle of the street.
“Hey Sarge, want to let you know, there is a little boy out here,” the officer said. “He’s only -- he’s on a bicycle. He’s naked. He’s probably four years old. He don’t know where he lives. He was riding up Union Road right here by the golf shop.”
The boy was tended to by emergency crews and is OK. Overnight temperatures in Gaston County were in the low 40s.
Channel 9 crews were there and watched as first responders and social workers worked to determine if this is a case of child neglect. They kept the boy safe and warm while police looked for his mother.
Officers eventually found the woman, Andrea Johnson, and took her into custody. As she was being led away in handcuffs, Eyewitness News heard her yelling, “Please don’t take my son.”
Channel learned that Johnson has been charged with child abuse and resisting arrest. She bailed out of the Gaston County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
People who live and work around the family’s home said it has happened before.
"No, it's not the first time," witness Brittany Pressley said.
Pressley shared a photo with Eyewitness News of what she said was the same boy wearing only underwear on a Big Wheel looking up at firefighters. She said the picture was taken in September in front of Johnson’s house.
Channel 9 asked officials if anything was done for the boy after the September incident.
Police reports accessible to the public do not include that kind of information in the summary when a juvenile is involved, according to Gaston Police Department policy.
Pressley said someone must step up for the child.
- DHS Division of Family & Children Services helpline: 1-800-CHILDREN
- Childhelp National Child Abuse hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
"It's just really sad you know? Just not knowing who is supposed to be taking care of children in these situations,” Pressley said. “It's just scary."
She said she and others in the area have taken it upon themselves to keep an eye out for the preschooler.
"We are this close, but we can't do that much to kinda help him," Pressley said.
A family member said Thursday the boy’s grandmother, who also lives in the house, is taking care of him.
Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.
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