One-year-old Nicholas Dominici lost his life after being exposed to fentanyl at a Bronx home daycare center Sept. 15.
According to the police updates at a Sept. 18 press conference, the adorable baby passed away on Friday afternoon at Montefiore Hospital. He was one of four children poisoned at Divino Nino Daycare Center by the lethal synthetic opioid. The other victims included two 2-year-old boys and an 8-month-old baby girl. All the children were administered Narcan, an over-the-counter opioid overdose treatment when they received medical attention.
“This is a really hard moment. This is not supposed to happen,” said Nicholas’ father, Otoniel Feliz.
“This broke my heart,” the devastated man added.
The grieving father said that Nicholas, the baby of his family, had only attended Divino Nino Daycare for a week before his untimely death. Otoniel claimed his other four other children now fear going to school.
Divino Nino Daycare and its operators are reportedly being investigated at local and federal levels following last week’s devastating incident. Authorities say the center was licensed and last inspected in early September.
Owner Grei Mendez, 36, and her husband’s cousin, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, were hit with federal narcotics conspiracy charges Sept. 19. The two were also charged at the state level with murder of “depraved indifference” concerning Nicholas’ death.
Brito reportedly rented a room in Mendez’s apartment, which opened as the daycare in January. Neither of those apprehended had any previous arrests.
“[The fentanyl] was laid underneath a mat where the children had been sleeping earlier,” said New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny on Sept. 18 during a press conference.
Upon execution of a search warrant, the NYPD and Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA] found a kilogram of fentanyl and three-kilo presses.
“This device is commonly used by drug dealers when packaging large quantities of illegal narcotics,” said Kenny.
It’s believed that Mendez made two calls to her husband before contacting 911 and alerting authorities that the children were showing signs of opioid exposure.
The husband reportedly got to the apartment before medics arrived and went down a back alley outside of the building with “two full shopping bags,” noted Fox 5.
Other related details to the case alleged thousands of texts between the daycare owner and her husband were deleted, suggesting “an effort to cover up the narcotics operation inside the apartment,” added the source.
“This case reflects every parent’s worst nightmare,” noted Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban of the New York Police Department (NYPD) Sept. 19. “These alleged drug traffickers brazenly went about their illicit business in one of the most ill-conceived locations imaginable, but they will be held accountable.”
Both Mendez and Brito deny prior knowledge of the lethal opioid’s presence in the daycare. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of New York’s Narcotics Unit prosecutes the case, and both suspects remain in custody.
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