When Nacogdoches Police officers went to check on two small children who had been left home alone, they found a 6-month-old baby girl in a closet and a 2-year-old girl asleep in the living room Wednesday morning. She was still secured in a car seat.
The father, Carlos Vashon Gatlin, 28, of Nacogdoches, was arrested and charged with two counts of second-degree felony abandoning a child. He was also charged with burglary of a habitation. No bail has been set at this time.
According to a press release, Gatlin was walking along in the 2400 block of South Street when Nacogdoches Police officers made stopped him because he had an outstanding grand jury warrant for burglary. When the NPD officers took Gatlin into custody, he told them that his two children were home alone and that officers needed to check on them.
"He made a remark to the officer, 'We need to go check on my kids," said St. Greg Sowell, a spokesman for the Nacogdoches Police Department. "And that's when they found what tghey did."
The NPD officers went to a home in the 2000 block of Beverly Street. Inside, they found the baby girl in the closet of a locked bedroom and the 2-year-old girl in the living room. The 6-month-old child was found to have a 101.3-degree temperature.
"The baby had some bruising to the ankles and a small bruise on the arm and forehead," said Shari Pulliam, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services. "She also had a severe diaper rash."
The mother of the children was at work at the time of the incident, the press release stated.
A neighbor, who was reluctant to go on camera said Gatlin was frequently seen walking toward South Street, about a 7-minute walk, and no children were ever with him. And they found it unusual with two small children inside that they seldom came outside to play.
Another neighbor said Gatlin seemed like a nice person.
"Carlos seems like a really nice guy," said the neighbor, Amanda Weatherford. "I haven't been in contact with him too much, but every time I seen him outside he's playing with the kids or just sitting and relaxing. He's just a pleasant person and I've never seen any other side of him than that."
However, a criminal history check revealed that Gatlin has prior convictions for burglary, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and forgery of a financial instrument.
The case is still under investigation by Nacogdoches Police Department detectives and Child Protective Services.