THE BRONX, N.Y. (PIX11) – A Bronx day care owner and her cousin were charged after four children overdosed, one fatally, at the facility on Friday, authorities said Sunday.
The owner, Grei Mendez. 36, and her cousin, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, were arrested Saturday and charged with murder, manslaughter, criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of a narcotic drug, and several counts of assault, police said. Mendez’s husband is also being sought by police.
Police were called to Divino Nino on Morris Avenue around 2:40 p.m. Friday. Three children — two boys and an 8-month-old girl — were found unconscious and unresponsive and taken to Montefiore Hospital with suspected drug overdoses. A 2-year-old boy got sick at home and was revived with Narcan. He is recovering at a local hospital. Another 2-year-old boy is in critical condition, as of Sunday afternoon, police said.
One-year-old Nicholas Dominici died at the hospital.
The boy’s family is heartbroken and leaning on their faith to get through the tragedy.
“Nothing will give me back our son. Not all the gold in the world will make up for his life. For a parent, the life of a child is priceless and the value will always be in my heart,” Dominici’s father, Otoniel Feliz, told PIX11 News.
Because three of the children were revived with Narcan, fentanyl was immediately suspected, police sources said. Investigators searched the day care for traces of the potentially lethal opioid, sources said.
A neighbor who lives next to the day care said she went to see the commotion and saw a woman run out of the building screaming.
“‘My kids are dead. The kids are dead,’” Mel Ramirez said. “Another lady came out holding a baby. The baby was unresponsive. I just feel so sad for the kids.”
On Saturday, police said a kilo press that packages “large quantities of drugs” was found inside the day care.
New York City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said Divino Nino was a “home-based” child care site that opened under the official authority of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
Vasan said the city’s Department of Health conducted inspections on behalf of the state, with the most recent one being a “surprise” inspection last week. No violations were found during the Sept. 9 visit.
“These children do not deserve this. So please pray for them and their families,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said.
Matthew Euzarraga is a multimedia journalist from El Paso, Texas. He has covered local news and LGBTQIA topics in the New York City Metro area since 2021. He joined the PIX11 Digital team in 2023. You can see more of his work here.