MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A man accused of eluding police while his three children were in the van that ended up smashing into a Miami building, faced a judge Friday morning.READ MORE: Johnson & Johnson Single-Shot COVID-19 Vaccine Joining In The Fight Against Global Pandemic
Lawrence Smith, 29, appeared in bond court where a judge allowed him to be released on house arrest but not before lecturing him on how he was not properly taking care of his children.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Mindy Glazer told Smith, “It is a frightening thought that you are taking care of kids this way. You really need to re-examine how you are taking care of your children.”
Smith defended himself in court and said, “I take care of my kids while their mother goes to work. She needs me.”
He also thanked the Judge for allowing him to be released on house arrest and said he was starting a new job soon.
“I start a job in construction next week, at Turner Construction,” he said.
According to his arrest report, Smith had an unsecured gun in the center console of the car at the time of his arrest. And that placed the children at risk.
Miami Police spokeswoman and Officer Kenia Fallat told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that authorities were very concerned about this case.READ MORE: South Florida House Republicans Vote Against President Biden's $1.9 Trillion Pandemic Relief Package
“I think there’s a lesson to be learned here that you should not have weapons around children and most important make sure they are in a safe location around children,” said Fallat.
A new report says police said Smith had no valid license and Smith said he fled because his license tag was expired and he had recently been arrested for a robbery. The report also said police followed and pursued Smith when he started speeding because his vehicle matched one used in a robbery.
Department of Children & Families officials released the children to their mother.
It all started when, police say, a Miami Police officer attempted to stop Smith. The officer activated the police lights but he allegedly did not stop.
When the officer followed the vehicle over the bridge, catching up to the van, it had already crashed into the side of a building located at NW 7th Avenue and 43rd Street.
The mother of the children as well as a relative arrived at the scene of the crash to pick up the children.
Their aunt, Jameelah Ahmad, said, “The kids were strapped in. They had their seat belts on. I was ecstatic to hear that.”MORE NEWS: Trump A Dominant Force At Conservative Conference In Orlando
Officers later took Smith into custody. He is now facing charges for eluding police, culpable negligence, child neglect and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon among others.