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CHALMETTE, La. - A man and woman who claimed to be homeless were arrested after deputies said they left two loaded handguns in a car with their young children while they shopped in a store for about 20 minutes.

The suspects were charged with child desertion, according to Sheriff James Pohlmann. The man was identified as 27-year-old Shelve Smith. The woman was identified as Regina Lee.

The children left in the vehicle with the loaded handguns ranged in age from five months to seven years of age.

'This could have easily ended in a tragedy,'' Pohlmann said. 'To leave two loaded guns with your very young children in a parked car is the height of idiocy. Just leaving the kids alone, period, in a store parking lot at their ages was criminally negligent.''

One gun was between the driver seat and the console and the other was between passenger seat and the console, according to Pohlmann.

Sheriff Pohlmann said a number of adults are arrested each year for leaving young children alone in vehicles while they shop.

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