A Georgia man has been arrested and charged with the death of his 22-month-old baby. Justin Ross Harris, a 33-year-old father from Marietta, was charged with murder after he allegedly forgot that his infant son Cooper was in a carseat, for seven hours, while Harris went to work at Home Depot’s administrative offices.
Harris has been charged with felony murder and cruelty to children in the first degree. According to a Reuters news report on June 19, as carried by MSN, the suburban Atlanta dad was “supposed to drop his son at a day care center on Wednesday morning on his way to work, Cobb County Police spokesman Dana Pierce said. Harris instead went to his office and the child spent the day in his car seat, the spokesman said.”
The National Weather Service showed that temperatures in Atlanta that day reached an intense 92 degrees. Investigators say the temperatures inside of the car would have reached closer to 100 degrees.
According to the NY Daily News, Harris was devastated and seen by witnesses in a mall’s parking lot screaming “What have I done? I've killed our child!” after realizing that his son was left inside of his SUV. The Daily News incorrectly reported that Harris worked at an area mall; he actually pulled into Akers Mill Square near the Cumberland Mall after beginning his commute home and realizing Cooper was still in the back seat.
Cobb County police said a crowd had gathered around the vehicle after Harris pulled over and took Cooper out of his Hyundai Tucson. Harris laid Cooper on the ground and CPR was attempted on the boy, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. Harris had to be restrained after the unthinkable realization that he had killed his boy hit him.
“He was lifeless, he was in the same position as if he were sitting in the carseat,” witness Dale Hamilton said. “It's something that I'll remember for a long time.”
A police statement read: “As officers began to render medical treatment to the 22-month old male child, it was discovered that he was deceased after apparently being left unattended in his car seat inside the vehicle.”
Harris, who is married with no other children, currently sits in Cobb County Jail with no bond.
“Apparently, he forgot the child was in the car seat in the back of the automobile and went to work, left work sometime around 4:00 or 4:15,” said Cobb County Sgt. Dana Pierce.
Home Depot headquarters made the following statement:
“Like the rest of our community, we're deeply saddened by this tragic loss. We continue to work with authorities on their investigation and grief counselors are available for our associates who request assistance.”
The landlord of the family, Joe Saini, described Harris and his wife to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as “very, very, nice” people who were thrilled to have their first baby together. The Constitution carried a Facebook photo of Cooper.
“Everything was going right for this couple,” Saini said. “They wanted to buy a house so they could have some space for their child to run around the backyard.”
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said there are many unanswered questions and stated he is unsure “where this investigation will ultimately lead.”
“It’s just a terrible, God-awful situation,” Reynolds said. “I can’t imagine, I can’t fathom what any parent would be going through at this stage. It’s the type of case that affects the community.”