NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Two infants died Friday after they were found unresponsive inside a Queens hotel turned homeless shelter.
The shelter in East Elmhurst primarily serves families with children, CBS2’s Christina Fan reports.
Detectives were inside the facility for hours after two babies suddenly went into cardiac arrest. Witnesses watched as paramedics tried reviving the children but say their bodies were already limp.
“I see the commotion from the caseworkers outside crying. That’s something that, you know, the last thing you want to see is your caseworker crying,” said Joseph Smith, who says in the shelter.
Sources say the children’s father ran to get security around 3 p.m. after finding his 2-month-old twins in distress. He told detectives he put his daughter and son in a crib to take a nap around noon. When he checked on them three hours later, they were unresponsive.
“They looked lifeless. And then the color about their skin, it was… It didn’t seem like they were going to make it,” Smith said.
According to sources, there was no visible trauma to the babies’ bodies and investigators found numerous pillows in the crib, but it is unclear if that contributed to the children’s deaths. The homeless shelter, called the Landing, is a temporarily solution for the up-to-169 families who live there. Residents say the deaths are loss to them all.
“What can I say? I’m heartbroken for the family,” said Erland Smith, who stays at the shelter.
Police have not made any arrests, but councilmember Francisco Moya is calling for an investigation into security at the facility, saying there’s been three deaths in two months.
I’m monitoring the tragedy that occurred at The Landing today. It’s just heart breaking, but it’s also marks 3 deaths at the shelter in 2 months and raises serious concerns. That’s why I’m calling for an investigation into what the facility/CAMBA is doing to keep residents safe. pic.twitter.com/js2FYoYVi7
— Francisco Moya (@FranciscoMoyaNY) January 11, 2020
The medical examiner’s office is still working to determine the cause of the children’s deaths.
Sources told CBS2 the father had custody of the children, but that both he and the mother were questioned extensively by police at the local precinct. The agency that runs the shelter says it is cooperating with police.