NEW YORK – Kayla Cho woke up shortly after 3:30 a.m. Friday to the sound of screaming coming from a home on the block where she lives.
Neighbors described the home as a day care in a red brick townhouse in Queens.
"A woman was screaming, 'Help me! Somebody just help me!' " Cho said.
Moments later, police discovered a ghastly scene: three infants, including a 3-day-old, and two adults, had been stabbed by an employee who then cut her own wrist.
The stabbings occurred about 3:40 a.m. in the Flushing neighborhood, police said. The infants, all of whom were less than 1 month old, were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. One of the adults who was stabbed was the father of one infant, police said; he was stabbed in the leg. The other adult was a co-worker of the employee and was stabbed in the torso. All were in critical but stable condition.
The facility, according to the state Office of Children and Family Services, was not a licensed or regulated child care program. A spokeswoman said that state-regulated child care programs are prohibited from caring for infants under 6 weeks unless they meet additional requirements.
Some neighbors said they had seen pregnant Chinese women frequenting the facility, raising suspicions that it was also operating as a birthing hotel for Chinese visitors who want to secure U.S. citizenship for their children.
Cho said there were "many people living there, many kids." Sheng Long Peng, 70, who lives next to the building, said he had seen the homeowner, who is from California, arrive in his car with pregnant women.
But some officials suggested that the home may have also served as a maternity facility for Chinese women who are in the U.S. legally but have no relatives to help them.
City Council Member Peter Koo, who represents the neighborhood, said it is a Chinese tradition for women to rest and be cared for a month after they give birth. When family is not available, often in immigrant communities, businesses may fill the caretaker role.
"If they don't have family they rely on outside support," Koo said, adding that he's "not sure that's what this place did."
New York Times