CYPRESS, Texas -- A 24-year-old mother is accused of hurting her baby girl while trying to escape from Walmart loss prevention officers and then abandoning the child.

It happened around 7:30 p.m. on July 3rd at 26270 Northwest Freeway in Northwest Harris County.

According to court records, Kristen Reeves has been arrested three times in the past on theft charges. Deputies say this is the first time she s been arrested for putting her child in the middle of it.

Investigators said Reeves was caught on video stealing a cell phone and then attempting to return it for a refund.

While being questioned by loss prevention officers, she reportedly used her child as a shield. According to deputies, Reeves put the baby between herself and officers.

At one point the baby s head hit a fire extinguisher, and mom bolted from the store without the baby.

I just couldn t believe it. I couldn t believe that this had come to that, said Elaine Cauthen, a family friend of Reeves. I don t even know how to react. I ve never heard of such a thing.

Cauthen has known Kristen Reeves since she was born.

Cauthen said she invited Reeves to stay in her Katy home rent free before the baby was born. According to Cauthen, Reeves and 15-month-old baby Laila lived there for an entire year.

In fact, Cauthen s garage is still full of Laila s things, like clothes, blankets, a stroller and even a stuffed animal from when she was born.

Cauthen told Reeves she had to move out back in March.

I helped her out with the baby because she didn t work or anything like that, Cauthen said. I love that baby to death. I mean, I love that baby. She s like my granddaughter.

Cauthen said Reeves also has a 3-year-old child living with a grandparent and a 7-year-old in foster care.

She means well, but I think she needs some guidance, Cauthen said. It s a sad situation really, but she kind of needs a mother to take care of her.

Baby Laila is now staying with a relative while CPS investigates.

Nothing is worth that. Nothing is worth that. You ve got to put these babies first. She s so innocent, Cauthen said.

Deputies said Reeves returned to the Walmart after leaving her child there.

She was arrested on charges of theft and child endangerment.

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