A mother was arrested on a murder charge in the death of her 1-year-old son, who was found unconscious and foaming at the mouth inside a burger restaurant bathroom in midtown, police say.
Latisha Fisher, 35, was charged with second-degree murder in the Monday death of 20-month-old Gavriel Ortiz-Fisher, according to the NYPD. She allegedly told investigators who responded to the 5 Boro Burger restaurant at 36th Street and Sixth Avenue that "the devil made me do it."
The mother had brought her son into the bathroom at the eatery early Monday afternoon; the two were locked inside for about 25 minutes before concerned customers contacted restaurant workers, who used a key to get in. The employees found the unconscious toddler on his mother's lap and called 911.
Patron Chris Coffee said he had just ordered when he noticed the commotion outside the bathroom.
"I stand up for a minute and look over, and boy's kind of hunched over and the mom's in the bathroom," he said. "I ask what's going on, and the waitress said the mom's locked herself in the bathroom."
Witnesses said responding firefighters and EMS tried to administer CPR on the boy inside the restaurant, then rushed him out.
He was taken to Bellevue Hospital in cardiac arrest and died, police said. The medical examiner's office will determine why he died. An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday.
The mother, who lives in lower Manhattan, was charged after speaking with police at the Midtown South precinct stationhouse. It was not immediately clear if she had an attorney. A phone number listed at the address provided by police was not in service.
The 5 Boro Burger restaurant was closed to the public for the remainder of Monday as police investigated.
Police located the father, who was brought in to the 7th Precinct station to talk to police, and was very distraught, law enforcement sources said.
Neighbors at Fisher's apartment said they'd been aware of some problems in her past, but were unprepared for any act of violence, especially aimed at her son.
"You know a person from their past, but then when they improve, you don't think that anything else will happen," said Carolyn Lawson.
"Whenever I saw him, she was happy," she said. "She was going wherever she had to go, she would speak to everybody, we would speak to her. The baby was adorable."
"The baby was only a year and a half," said Josefina de Leon. "How could she do that to the baby?"
A spokesman for the Administration for Children's Services said in a statement that officials were launching an investigation but were limited in what they could discuss because of privacy laws.