BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH AND ROBERT POZARYCKI
The Flushing day care center where three infants and two adults were stabbed by a 52-year-old woman on Friday morning didn’t have a proper license to operate, according to local lawmakers.
Law enforcement sources said the violence broke out just before 3:44 a.m. on Sept. 21 inside of a home on 161st Street near 45th Avenue, where the day care center is located.
According to police and published reports, the 52-year-old woman, who works at the facility, stabbed a 63-year-old female coworker multiple times in the torso with a kitchen knife. She allegedly then turned the sharp instrument on three infants — all of them girls, one as young as 3 days old — and attacked them.
At this point, police do not yet know what caused the woman to go on the stabbing spree.
During a press conference outside the crime scene on Friday afternoon, Assemblyman Ron Kim repeatedly said that the facility was unlicensed, yet advertised itself to the contrary, and might have called itself by the name Mei Bao in “ethnic publications.”
“Why were there seven infant babies in this house?” Kim asked. “Were they vetted and licensed to care for these kids? … Once we have the facts, my colleagues and I will work very closely to close any loopholes in the system to make sure that we will never see this kind of ugliness in our community again.”
Nine babies “were present during the assault” and there were “at least 11 cribs in the three-story building,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement.
Two of the babies suffered stab wounds to their stomachs, and the third was sliced in the chin, ear and lip, WABC-TV reported. The woman also allegedly stabbed one of the child’s fathers in the leg; he had run to the injured female coworker’s aid after hearing her scream.
Officers from the 109th Precinct and EMS units rushed to the home after receiving a 911 call about the attack. Paramedics rushed the injured infants to local hospitals; all are listed in critical but stable condition.
The female coworker was also taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens hospital and is listed in stable condition.
While responding to the incident, authorities said, cops found the 52-year-old woman in the basement with a slash wound to her left wrist, believed to have been self-inflicted. They took her into custody and brought her to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens hospital. Brown said that the attacker “is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation as well as being treated for what appears to be self-inflicted wounds.”
A butcher knife and a cleaver were recovered from the scene, NBC New York reported.
According to Kim, the day care center may be one of several postpartum facilities that have opened up in the area. Traditionally in Chinese culture, when a woman gives birth she is taken care of by family members of friends for one month. Many immigrants in Flushing, however, do not have the means to hire babysitters for newborn infants and cannot rely upon friends and families, so the parents send their babies to a day care facility.
At the press conference, City Councilman Peter Koo stressed that the attack was “an isolated incident” by some someone who was “mentally deranged.”
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said that she would pursue legislation, if needed, to prevent a similar incident from happening.
“We are all concerned in this community together,” Stavisky said.
This story was updated on Sept. 21 at 2:40 p.m.