Man left baby, dog in car while visiting gym says report

Justin Wayne Hatcher, 36, of Monroe, N.C.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Police say a man left his infant daughter in a car while visiting a Spartanburg gym.

Justin Wayne Hatcher, 36, of Monroe, N.C. has been charged with child neglect, according to jail records.

Police responded to a report of a child and dog locked in a vehicle at Planet Fitness on E. Main Street on Wednesday afternoon.

According to a police report, Hatcher told officers he left his daughter and dog in the vehicle and wasn’t worried because the dog would protect the child.

Police say Hatcher initially claimed he went inside the gym to use the restroom and was only gone for a few minutes. Hatcher later told police that he spoke with an employee about a gym membership.

A gym employee said Hatcher asked about a membership and was led on a tour of the facility.

Security footage showed Hatcher enter the gym around 5 p.m. and remain inside 17 minutes, the report states. An officer’s patrol vehicle indicated the temperature was 94 degrees.

A gym member told police he was leaving the gym and noticed an infant in a car breathing heavily and alerted employees who got the child out of the vehicle.

Police were unable to find the child’s mother.

Hatcher said he had dropped her off at a store, the report states.

The infant was taken to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center for treatment and placed in emergency protective custody.

On Thursday, Major Art Littlejohn with Spartanburg Police Department said the child is fine.

Hatcher was also cited for mistreatment of animals. Animal services took possession of the dog.

Hatcher was booked into the Spartanburg County Detention Center on Wednesday and released Thursday morning, jail records show.

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