A 28-year-old Warsaw resident is in the Genesee County Jail tonight after being accused of throwing his 7-year-old son to the floor while in the toy department at Walmart this afternoon.
Christopher P. Cummings was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court in front of Justice Thomas Williams on charges of harassment, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child and ordered held on $2,500 bail.
The boy was taken to UMMC by Child Protective Services for a precautionary evaluation and is reportedly uninjured.
In court tonight, Cummings said, "I was in the wrong, obviously."
The alleged incident was reported at 2:30 p.m. after a witness reported seeing Cummings pick the boy up by his shoulders and "slam" him to the floor.
"I screamed at the man and told him to leave the child alone," the witness said in a written statement.
The arresting officer, Trooper Eric Daigler, wrote in the report filed with the court -- known as an accusatory -- that Cummings was seen lifting the boy over his head and then "throw him to the floor."
Cummings then reportedly picked up the boy and started to walk away. He was joined by a young woman and two children and all five quickly exited the store.
The man who said he had screamed at Cummings called 9-1-1.
Several witnesses reportedly either saw the incident or heard the commotion. Cummings was reportedly yelling very loudly at the boy.
In a written statement, Cummings admits to the incident.
He said the boy had been with his mother who was looking at clothing, but the mother complained the boy was misbehaving and asked Cummings to watch over him.
Cummings took his three boys to look at video games, but the oldest boy wasn't interested, so they went to the toy section.
The boy became interested in some playing cards, something like, Cummings wrote, "Pokemon or Skylander." The boy asked for the cards and Cummings said no. The boy then tried to open the cards and Cummings told him not to and the three boys and their dad walked to the next aisle.
The boy then said he was going back to put the cards away. When he returned, he had the cards out of the packaging and the wrapper was gone.
Cummings said he slapped the 7-year-old with an open hand. The boy fell to the floor and started to cry.
"He argued about the cards," Cummings said. "That's when I picked him up and slammed him down.
"That's when people in the store started yelling at me," Cummings added. "(The boy) had sprawled himself out and was throwing a temper tantrum."
Cummings said he picked the boy up, was joined by the boy's mother and he told her people were yelling at him and that he had slapped the boy.
He was aware, he said, that people said they were going to call the police, but he wasn't sure if anybody actually had.
The family drove to the Tonawanda Indian Reservation and while there received a phone call from the mother of the mother who said the incident had made the news.
The family returned to the Pavilion residence of the mother and three children and Cummings continued on to Warsaw.
"I know I have anger management problems and I want to get help for it," Cummings wrote at the end of his statement.
The mother called the Sheriff's Office and was put in touch with Trooper Holly Hanssel who convinced her to have Cummings return to Pavilion, which he did. By that time, Cummings had already been identified as the suspect by several callers who had seen the news report. State Police were at the residence by the time Cummings returned.
He was taken into custody without incident.
Justice Williams issued a complete stay away order of protection for Cummings. For the time being, at least, he's to have no contact whatsoever with his three sons.
In a news release to all WNY media outlets, State Police said that investigators had no leads on who the suspect was until the post appeared on The Batavian.
"Within minutes of the posting leads as to the suspect’s identity began coming in," the news release reads, and concludes, "Troopers credit the swift apprehension of Cummings to the posting of his picture by the online news outlet and the public’s willingness to come forward with the information that led to his identity."