OCALA, Fla. -

A 28-year-old father was arrested in Ocala on suspicion of leaving his three children alone in a car for four hours while he drank in a bar.

Joshua Delong was arrested early Thursday on three counts of child neglect after he was found beaten and bloody outside Dr. B's Bar at Northeast 8th Place in Ocala.

The children -- ages 5, 7 and 8 -- were unharmed, said police, who added that bar patrons beat Delong after learning about the incident.

According to Ocala police, Heather Weiss spotted the children in the car around 2 a.m., saying they were hoking the car horn and calling for their daddy. Weiss said one of the children told her, "Daddy left us here for a long time, and he does it a lot," according to police.

"I don't know why anyone would put any child in that situation," said Weiss. "It was pretty scary. It just kinda hit me that when your looking at a kid and there sitting there crying you do what you can. You see they're tired, they're sweaty, you want to do the right thing and get them out of the situation."

The children told Ocala police that they ate dinner with their father and grandmother, and wanted to go home with their dad, who instead drove to the bar and left them alone with the windows up and the keys in the ignition.

Weiss' boyfriend, a bouncers at Dr. B's, found Delong, who said the children were his, and Delong attempted to drive off, but the security team stopped him because they thought he was drunk, police said.

A bar patron who was angry about the incident then struck Delong, police said.

Delong told police that several patrons dragged him out of the bar and beat him.

Delong said his wife dropped the kids off in the car while he was at the bar, but she denied that claim, saying Delong has had custody of the children for the last five days, according to police.

Delong was arrested and taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center before being transported to the Marion County Jail.