The Laguna Beach Police Department is seeking to have criminal charges filed against a mother who allegedly left her 4-year-old son at Main Beach on Sunday, Capt. Jason Kravetz wrote in an email.
The department filed a report of felony willful cruelty to a child with the Orange County district attorney's office, Kravetz said.
If the district attorney files a charge, police can release the mother's name, he said. She is from south Orange County but Kravetz declined to mention the city.
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Officers arrived at the Main Beach lifeguard tower at 5:44 p.m., where the boy was playing with people near the playground area, police said.
People at the beach said they didn't see the boy's parents, Kravetz said.
Police searched downtown and around beaches and parks, called local hospitals and checked area jails, Kravetz said.
"Many hours of staff time was consumed trying to locate the parents of this child," Kravetz said. "In the meantime, an officer brought the boy to the Police Department and fed him."
Police eventually brought the boy to the Orangewood Children's Home in Orange, according to Kravetz.
The home is an emergency shelter for children who have been neglected or sexually, physically or emotionally abused, according to the Orangewood Children's Foundation website, http://www.orangewoodfoundation.org/about_home.asp.
A woman claiming to be the boy's mother called Laguna Beach police at 10:40 p.m. Sunday and eventually came to the station to be interviewed.
"I cannot go into details of the interview or discuss why the child was left alone," Kravetz said.
Child Protective Services will conduct a separate investigation, according to police.