(NEW YORK) — Two people have been hit with multiple charges after a 1-year-old boy died and three other young children were hospitalized after suspected opioid exposure at a Bronx, New York, day care on Friday.
Drug production equipment was also found inside the day care following the death Nicholas Dominici and the hospitalization of three other young children, according to the New York City Police Department.
Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, and 36-year-old Grei Mendez, now face 11 charges, including murder, manslaughter and assault.
A kilo press was discovered by police executing a search warrant inside 2707 Morris Avenue following Nicholas’ death, police said
“This is an item that is commonly used by drug dealers when packaging large quantities of drugs,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said during a news conference.
It is unknown what type of drugs were potentially being manufactured or how the children came into contact with them. New York City Mayor Eric Adams would only say the four children “appear to have come into contact with an opioid.”
“We don’t know exactly what happened to those babies,” Police Commissioner Edward Caban said.
New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said the victims somehow came in contact “with a powerful substance, which can, through either inhalation, ingestion, or in touching of the skin, intoxicate the recipient. We don’t know what happened in this case.”
The Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death, and doctors will take urine and blood from the surviving children to try to figure out what drugs they were exposed to.
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, officials said.
Investigators said the children appear to have been exposed to the unknown opioids over an extended period on Friday. A 2-year-old boy who went home at around 12:15 p.m. was later found by his mother to be “acting lethargic and unresponsive.” The mother rushed him to the hospital, where the opioid-reversal medication Narcan saved his life, authorities said.
The children who stayed at the day care ate something at around 1 p.m. and took a nap. When workers went to wake them up at 2:30 p.m., three were unconscious, police said.
“All three children were unresponsive and demonstrating symptoms of opioid exposure. Narcan was administered to all three of these children in an attempt to save their lives.” Kenny said. “Two children survived. Unfortunately, one male, 2 years old passed away at Montefiore Hospital at 3:29 p.m.”
All the children who were hospitalized live nearby in the Bronx. None are related, authorities said.