Residents in Flushing, Queens, were woken up shortly before 4 a.m. on Friday morning to screaming and “loud thuds” from a home nearby. A short while later, they heard cries for help from a residence that is run as a day care center.
As the New York Times reported, police swarmed the building just moments later, and stumbled a scene reminiscent of a horror movie inside the house. Five people had been stabbed, including three infants ranging in age from just 3-days-old to 1-month-old. The employee of the day care who had allegedly stabbed them had them cut her own wrists.
Police said the stabbings had occurred at approximately 3:40 a.m. that morning. The three babies were taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The two adult victims of the stabbing are a female coworker of the day care worker who was stabbed repeatedly in the torso, and a father of one of the babies. All five victims are considered to be in “critical but stable condition.”
The 52-year-old woman who reportedly stabbed them was unconscious at the scene, but regained consciousness shortly afterward and was taken into custody.
A butcher’s knife and a meat cleaver were recovered from the scene, per CBS News.
“A woman was screaming, ‘Help me! Somebody just help me!” neighbor Kayla Cho said.
While residents say the home is a day care center, New York State Office of Children and Family Services say it was not licensed or registered as such with the state.
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Monica Mahaffey, a spokeswoman for the agency, has stated that “state-regulated child care programs are prohibited from caring for infants less than six weeks of age unless they meet additional requirements.”
Neighbors have said they regularly see pregnant Chinese women entering the facility. Police are suspicious that the day care is “operating as a birthing hotel for Chinese visitors who want to secure American citizenship for their children.”
Cho says that there are many people living in the home, mostly young children. Another neighbor, 70-year-old Sheng Long Peng, stated he often sees the homeowner arriving in his car with pregnant Chinese women. Nineteen-year-old Bryan Kim also noticed a string of pregnant women arriving at the home.
“About a month ago I saw two women come out, both pregnant,” Kim said. “My mom and I had never seen them before.”
While suspicions about the nature of the facility have arisen, other authorities believe that it is simply a maternity center for Chinese women who are legally in the country and have no family who can help them during their pregnancy and birth.
City Council member Peter Koo, who represents the area, has stated that it is tradition for Chinese women to be cared for for a month after they have given birth.
“If they don’t have family they rely on outside support,” Koo said.
According to State Assemblyman Ron Kim, the home has been registered as a business, but not as a day care center.