A South Bethlehem woman who twice left her two small children—a toddler and an infant—alone in her car Friday morning while visiting supermarkets is in prison on charges of endangering the welfare of children, according to court papers.
Gilberte Bigirimana, 28, of 719 Aaron St., told police she was only inside of the Stefko Boulevard Bottom Dollar for three minutes while she left her children alone, then produced a register receipt to prove her case, according to a police affidavit.
However, the register receipt was from the Giant on W. Union Boulevard that she had visited earlier in the morning, police said.
According to the affidavit of probable cause:
- Bethlehem police responded to the Bottom Dollar, 719 Stefko Boulevard, at 9:36 a.m. to check on two small children who had been left alone in a car in the parking lot.
- Police found the silver Mazda and saw a 2½-year-old boy standing on the driver’s seat playing with the steering wheel. A 5-month-old infant was in a child seat behind the driver’s seat. The driver’s side door was open.
- The responding officer, Jason Gerstner, asked a supermarket employee to page the owner of the car. But before the page was done, Bigirimana returned to her car.
- Bigirimana said she had only left her children alone for three minutes and produced the receipt from the Giant at 2174 W. Union Boulevard, which showed she left that store at 9:09 a.m. When that was pointed out to her, she told police that she had also only left her children alone outside the Giant for a few minutes.
- Gerstner checked video footage at the Bottom Dollar, which showed that Bigirimana entered the store by herself at 9:32 and left at 9:41. Another officer checked video footage at the Giant, which showed she entered the store by herself at 9:07 and left at 9:09.
- Gerstner contacted the district attorneys' offices in Lehigh and Northampton counties, which agreed to consolidate the charges in Northampton County.
Bigirimana is facing two counts of endangering the welfare of children. She was arraigned before District Judge Patricia Romig-Passaro and committed to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $7,500 bail.
Court papers do not mention who took custody of the children.