BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- A Buffalo Police officer has been charged with endangering the welfare of his two children.
29-year-old Larry Muhammad Jr., is a three-year veteran of the Buffalo Police force who is still working his regular shift in Buffalo’s North District. On Sunday, he was charged with two misdemeanor counts stemming from an incident last Feb. 1, when his children were left home alone and the house caught fire.
“I didn’t know what was going on. All I thought about was saving the kids and running out of the house,” said Nadine Wallace, who lives next door to the burned home at 166 Burgard Place near Doat Street. She says on that day, the little boy next door came banging on her door for help because his sister was still inside. “So, I was looking ‘Where’s you’re little sister” and he was like ‘She ran upstairs, she’s hiding.’ So I instantly just started screaming for the little girl and she wouldn’t come out at first, so then I just started screaming more and she came out. I just instantly , she jumped in my arms, I grabbed her and ran out the door, and I was coming out the door and the fire followed us out the door.”
Wallace soon realized the children, ages five and eight, were left home alone. The arrest report says that Muhammad’s actions were ‘not only harmful to the child’s mental state but a very real physical danger to the child’s physical well being.’
Wallace believes it was just an innocent mistake on Muhammad’s part.
“I feel bad because he was such a good father, just probably ran to the store for a second, and it just happened like that, but he was always a good person, a good father, I’ve never seen him … excellent person.”
Muhammad was given an appearance ticket to come to court on January 4. He remains on duty. Although departmental charges have been lodged against him, he is entitled to an informal hearing.
A source close to the case says there are many questions about why the children were left home alone and for how long. The department usually would only suspend someone before their informal hearing in cases where the officer was considered a threat to the department or the public, according to the source.