Two small children died in a Bronx family shelter on Saturday night after being stabbed several times each in the neck and torso, and their 24-year-old mother was in custody, the authorities said.
The New York Police Department identified the children as boys, ages 11 months and 3 years, but did not release their names. The police described their mother as a “person of interest” but did not release her name either.
Police officers were sent to the shelter in the Mount Hope neighborhood at 7:20 p.m. to investigate a report of a woman trying to burn items near the kitchen area, Louis De Ceglie, deputy chief of the New York Police Department, said during a news conference late Saturday.
Officers found the woman naked inside the third-floor unit on the 200 block of Echo Place, Chief De Ceglie said. She was “acting irrational,” and officers took her into custody without incident before taking her to a nearby hospital for evaluation, he said.
Soon after, around 7:55 p.m., the police received another call reporting that two babies at the same location were not breathing, Chief De Ceglie said.
Officers returned to the apartment and found the two children with stab wounds, he said. They were taken to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital but died of their injuries, he said.
The family’s apartment was on the third floor of an eight-story building. On Saturday night, neighbors peeked out of windows at the police as reporters assembled below.
Edwin Jones, 50, a neighbor, said he often saw the family outside the building or barbecuing across the street. He said they had lived there for about a year, and that he knew the father: “I always see him with his kids.”
Mr. Jones described the mother as quiet. “Whatever things she had going within herself, she kept it to herself,” he said.
Charlotte Obiri, 47, another neighbor, said she knew the woman in custody from around the neighborhood and frequently saw her with her children and their father on the street, in the store and at nearby Echo Park. Ms. Obiri was visibly in shock as she described seeing the two boys being brought down.
“They brought the baby out, and they was working on him — and then the little boy, they brought him out on a gurney, and he looked lifeless,” she said. “He was naked, and he looked lifeless. I still see the image in my head.”
Ms. Obiri and other neighbors struggled to process the gruesome scene and the fact that the children’s mother was in custody.
“I feel sick,” Ms. Obiri said. “I’ve been throwing up.”
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