Most of the people in this apartment complex are still coming to grips with the reality of yesterday afternoon. It helps to talk about it, perhaps in seeking absolution from neighbors about a situation that anyone who lives among families can understand. According to this year’s headlines, this isn’t a scenario unique to any particular demographic and there is no way to evaluate statistics of child murders because I suppose it pains everyone that it can be calculated. Yesterday a child died at home, not of illness, and not of drowning, poisoning, or choking accident, a child died at home deliberately at the hands of another.
A child was found not breathing in building 23, and that’s why there was a stream of emergency vehicles, paramedics, fire, and then a swarm of police vehicles parading into the center of the complex during what should have been a windy but sunny Sunday afternoon. The police were called immediately by the Fire Department, who made attempts to resuscitate the 7 year old. Collectively residents watched, all knowing that something had been amiss in that small apartment space where three kids often took refuge sitting in their mother’s car. Overcrowding was part of the situation, two women, three children squeezed into a one bedroom apartment and then in the last month another female, two more children and an adult male joined the group.
The tenant on record and occupants were notified that apartment was not suitable for that number of people and received visits from the apartment management team and Child Protective Services, who declared the situation OK. I find that funny that a state service examined a full living space at one o’clock in the afternoon and saw nothing wrong with at least three school age children not in school, one being a boy with a black eye. Who knows what they look for in their check or what they were permitted to see.
Yesterday, the boy was pronounced dead at the hospital and the man was taken in cuffs. Now those of us touched by the situation face up to the guilt of seeing the pieces of a terrifying picture take shape. I had once voiced my suspicion about neglect while another resident complained about the unsupervised kids and another sighed with disgust about noise and partying that seemed to seep out of her neighbor’s apartment at all hours. Until yesterday, none of us realized our concerns were all about he same unit. Apparently everyone (including the management) had accepted the response of the only named tenant on the rental agreement that the conditions were temporary and the boy’s injuries were sustained during play.
The boy’s mother was home with all the other children, and the other two women who lived there returned after the ambulance departed and the crime scene tape closed the parking area. None of the other children, eight and younger, were injured but they were taken into protective custody where they will stay until the investigation ends and they are returned to a space of proper care. RIP sweet innocent kid, overpowered and strangled in a space less than 800 square feet with five others present. It is hard to believe, but sadly true. The news elements of this story will continue for a considerable time, through the arraignment of the accused, and the conclusion of the family’s situation. Hopefully, the hole that’s left behind will remind everyone of our moral duty speak up.
If you see something, say something – most kids can’t. Hopefully someone will listen.