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‘This has been difficult for them,’ police say of Northlake kids bound at Kansas Walmart

Updated: June 14, 2012 6:11PM

A Northlake couple was behind bars Thursday and their five children were in protective custody after two of the kids were discovered blindfolded and with their limbs bound in the parking lot of a Walmart in eastern Kansas.

Responding to a call from a concerned shopper Wednesday, police went to the store in Lawrence, Kansas, and spotted a 5-year-old boy sitting on the ground beside a large SUV with his hands tied behind his back, his legs bound and a blindfold covering his eyes. As an officer approached the vehicle, he noticed a man standing near it, according to the police.

“When [the man] saw the officer, he tried to get away from him,” Lawrence police spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley said Thursday.

The man ducked inside the vehicle, and the officer, concerned that the man could be reaching for a weapon, used a stun gun and put him in handcuffs, McKinley said.

A 7-year-old girl was found inside the vehicle, also bound and blindfolded, along with three other children, ages 12, 13 and 15, who weren’t restrained.

“This is an extremely unusual circumstance,” McKinley said.

Officers found the children’s mother inside the Walmart and arrested her, too, McKinley said.

He said he doesn’t know why nor for how long the children had been tied up and blindfolded

The parents — identified as Adolfo Gomez, 52, and Deborah Gomez, 43 — were arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse and five counts of child endangerment. The father also faces one count of obstruction.

Bonds for both parents were set at $50,000 on Thursday.

All of the children have been taken into protective custody, McKinley said.

He said officers are working with Illinois social services officials to determine where to send the children.

“We need to understand if they have extended family” and whether the children can be placed with them, he said. “Emotionally, this has been very difficult for them.”

The family, described by their landlord in Northlake as devout Christians, was heading to Arizona and was forced to pull off the Interstate 70 late Monday when their vehicle had transmission problems, McKinley said, citing interviews with the family.

“We’ve been told that they were going to visit a relative in Arizona,” McKinley said. “The mom was in the store shopping, while the person we believe to be the father was standing over the two youngest children, who had been bound.”

The family’s landlord in Northlake told the Chicago Sun-Times that Adolfo Gomez planned to take his family to North Dakota or Montana to look for work.

The landlord said he was shocked when he learned the pair had been arrested.

“That doesn’t sound right — not at all,” said the man, who did not want to be named.

The landlord said he had rented rooms to the family in his Northlake home for the last three months.

Adolfo Gomez, who liked to jog, collected scrap metal and his wife worked at UPS, the landlord said.

“They were really good parents,” he said. “The kids were really well-mannered.”

He said the older children had their own Bibles, and all the youngsters attended schools in the neighborhood.

“They were good Christians,” he said. “They never even put on an R-rated movie — just strictly family entertainment.”

Contributing: Stefano Esposito, Matt McKinney, AP

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