Mom's error led to toddler 'chugging beer' at school event, say police

Elise Solé
A concerned mother filed a police report after spotting a 3-year-old girl drinking beer at a school event in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo: Ayesha Wheeler/Facebook)
A concerned mother filed a police report after spotting a 3-year-old girl drinking beer at a school event in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo: Ayesha Wheeler/Facebook)

A mother who filmed a toddler “chugging” beer at a school event for kindergarteners says that when she tried to report it, authorities doubted her story — and when they eventually investigated the matter, they concluded that it had been an innocent mistake.

It all began on Monday morning, when mom-of-two Ayesha Wheeler was attending an award ceremony for her 5-year-old son, who was recognized for perfect attendance at J.H. Gunn Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C. At the ceremony, Wheeler photographed a little girl walking around holding a can of Bud Light.

“I was sitting near the back of the room around 10 a.m. when I heard the crack of a can opening,” Wheeler, 23, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I glanced over, and I was in shock.”

Wheeler says she saw a woman give the just-opened brewski to a 3-year-old girl, who began “chugging the drink.” Wanting evidence, the mom filmed the toddler sitting next to the beer can and then walking away with it. Wheeler also caught the woman taking photos of the girl posing with the beer and of the can’s clearly marked label.

Posted by Ayesha Wheeler on Monday, November 5, 2018

She posted photos of the child with the beer to Facebook later that day, writing, “So I’m at my son’s school for the kindergarten award ceremony (J.H. GUNN Elementary) this woman beside me got her daughter (3 years old) drinking a BUD LIGHT… Not only that but the lady starts taking pics of her baby with the beer and all the other parents are just looking quietly.”

Wheeler says other adults either stared at the girl or appeared indifferent. “I told my son’s teacher, and she said she needed the principal but she was busy with other children, so I went myself,” Wheeler tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

An administrator then allegedly approached the woman and said, “Your daughter can’t drink beer in here.” Afterward, Wheeler says, the woman placed the open can in her purse and walked away.

Wheeler notified the front desk and was told that a school resource officer would assist. After leaving school, Wheeler filed a report with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. “The police seemed to treat it like a mistake — an officer who visited the girl’s home told me, ‘We didn’t see any beer, only soda, and the kids weren’t drunk.’”

A representative of the police department tells Yahoo Lifestyle the following: “CMPD has investigated this incident and determined the parents unintentionally brought the alcoholic beverage to the school thinking it was Pepsi, which comes in a similar color can. After speaking with school officials and those involved, the officers determined that charges were not warranted.”

Wheeler posted her footage on Facebook, which initially made her uneasy. “I didn’t want to put someone else’s child on social media, but so many people, from parents to the school and law enforcement, failed this child,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

A representative of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “It has been determined that the adult mistakenly put the alcoholic beverage can into her bag, apparently thinking it was a soft drink can with a similar color. There is nothing to suggest that the incident was anything more than a mistake. The district will not take any action against the adult. This matter has been investigated by law enforcement.”

Even so, Wheeler was disgruntled enough to pull her son from J.H. Gunn Elementary School and is transferring him to a new kindergarten. “Even with the evidence on my phone, I was constantly questioned, ‘Are you sure it’s beer? Couldn’t it be root beer or soda?’” says Wheeler. “There should have been an immediate response.”

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