Uncle accused of teaching oldest how to steal
A Jasper County man is facing several misdemeanor charges after leaving four young children and two dogs in a hot car while he taught another child how to steal from the store, according to the incident report from the Hattiesburg Police Department.
Bryan Coleman, 39, of Bay Springs was charged with four counts of child neglect and animal cruelty at Walmart on Highway 49 in Hattiesburg on Monday.
A store employee saw the children in a Nissan Altima in the parking lot around noon and “their clothing was wet from sweating due to the vehicle not running at the time,” according to the report.
An unidentified woman removed the children — ages 1, 2, 7 and 9, according to the report — and two small dogs and put them in her vehicle to cool them down. Managers at the store attempted to call the owner of the vehicle over the intercom “several times” for “at least 45 minutes,” but got no response.
Coleman eventually came back to the vehicle and told officers that the children were his nieces and nephews.
Child Protective Services was contacted while AAA Ambulance personnel checked on the children and the dogs awaited transport by the animal control officer.
Meanwhile, a store manager told officers that Coleman was “observed coaching a 10-year-old juvenile female on how to under price scanning items.” He then left the girl “unattended with the stolen items as he walked back to his car,” according to the report.
Coleman reportedly told the store’s loss-prevention personnel that he was going back to the vehicle to get more money, but he only had $20 cash for $62 of items.
A CPS caseworker came to the scene and waited with the children until their mother arrived. She was allowed to take them and the car from the scene.
The case will be reopened in Jasper County, according to the report.
Coleman was transported to the Forrest County Jail.