KINGSBRIDGE, The Bronx (WABC) — Two suspects have been indicted and a third is sought by police in the deadly opioid exposure at a day care in the Bronx.
First responders were summoned on Friday afternoon to Divino Nino Daycare on 2707 Morris Ave. in Kingsbridge for reports of cardiac arrest.
Drug production equipment found inside the home-based day care is suspected in the death of one-year-old Nicholas Dominici and the hospitalization of the three other young children.
Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, and Grei Mendez, 36, were dealt 11 charges including murder, manslaughter, and assault. When their arraignment will take place is unclear, because Mendez was taken to the hospital. Police are also looking for Mendez’s husband.
Officials say Brito is a tenant who was renting a room from Mendez. Brito is the cousin of Mendez’s husband, authorities said.
“She had no idea what was in that closet – she called the cops. Would you call the cops if you knew there was fentanyl in your apartment?” said Mendez’s attorney, Andres Aranda.
Law enforcement officials described the day care as operating inside a converted apartment. A kilo press was discovered by police executing a search warrant inside the business.
“This is an item that is commonly used by drug dealers when packaging large quantities of drugs,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny during an overnight news conference.
Officials say the children, who stayed at the daycare, ate something around 1 p.m. Friday and took a nap. When workers went to wake them up at 2:30 p.m., three were unconscious. Dominici was pronounced dead at Montefiore.
A two-year-old boy is in critical condition. An eight-month-old girl and another two-year-old boy were also rushed to the hospital.
Investigators believe the children had been exposed to the unknown opioids over an extended period. Doctors will take urine and blood from the surviving children to try to figure out what drugs they were exposed to.
The two-year-old boy actually went home at around 12:15 p.m. Friday and was later found by his mother to be “acting lethargic and unresponsive.” His mother rushed him to the hospital, where the opioid-reversal medication Narcan saved his life.
The Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine Dominici’s cause of death.
“I love him, I miss him, I want him back – but there’s nothing that will give me back my son – when I came home from work and walked through the door, he’d say ‘daddy, daddy!'” said Otoniel Feliz.
With watery eyes and a heavy heart, Feliz is mourning and processing how he lost his son at a place he assumed was safe.
“My wife was on her way to the day care. She was going to pick him up early. Shortly before she arrives, she receives the call and also sees the ambulance,” Feliz added.
The day care, for children between 6 weeks and 12 years old, recently opened in January and just passed a surprise visit from city inspectors last week with no violations found.
After the children were removed from the day care, the fire department tested the air for environmental hazards and found no evidence of carbon monoxide. Officials then began to suspect opioid exposure and executed a search warrant to search the rooms, cabinets, and other spaces, where the drug packaging device was found.
A Grand Jury is scheduled to be convened on Thursday. The second defendant, the tenant was waiting to be arraigned Sunday night.
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