A mother from the Lower East Side was taken into custody yesterday after she and her two-year-old baby were found inside the restroom of a Midtown restaurant. The child was unconscious and later declared dead at Bellevue Hospital.
At about 2:30 p.m., 35-year-old Latisha Fisher walked inside Five Boro Burger at 976 6th Avenue (36th Street), immediately entered the bathroom and locked the door. After employees became concerned, they opened the door with a key. The boy was foaming at the mouth. Police say Fisher prevented them from performing CPR. The woman lives in the Gompers Houses at 60 Pitt St.
An autopsy was performed on the body of 20-month-old child, Gavriel Ortiz-Fisher. Police are awaiting the results. Fisher was taken to the Midtown South Precinct for questioning and later charged with 2nd degree murder. The father was not at the restaurant yesterday afternoon. Officers brought him to the 7th Precinct here on the LES to inform him about what had occurred.
The New York Times noted that Fisher was arrested in 2011 on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon. It’s unclear whether the Administration for Children’s Services had ever had contact with the family. The Times talked with people at the Gompers Houses yesterday:
Josefina Deleon, 54… said Ms. Fisher was a doting mother to her young son. “She was crazy with that baby; she always took care of him,” Ms. Deleon said. “It hurts.” She said Ms. Fisher also has an older son, who is a preteenager. Jiovanni Montero, 21, who also lives in the building, said he often saw Ms. Fisher with the boy and his father. Through the summer, the parents often took the boy to the courtyard in his stroller for fresh air and fun. Mr. Montero, who said he sometimes played ball in the courtyard with the older son, played with the baby. “I would make faces, he would laugh,” Mr. Montero said. “It really does break my heart. I always thought the mother was good.” Mr. Montero added that starting around Halloween, Ms. Fisher and the father began having public fights. In one, Mr. Montero heard her ask him how she was supposed to cope if he was not going to be around. “I always used to see them arguing back and forth,” he said.
A police source told the Daily News that Fisher blamed the devil for what she had done:
“I would describe her as soulless,” a law enforcement official said when asked if the mom seemed distraught. “She put her hand over his mouth and smothered him.” Another sickened police source said: “She is a lunatic. She is crazy.”
The News also spoke with family members:
“It’s hard, it’s really unbelievable. I know my daughter loves her son,” said the boy’s maternal grandmother, Merial Fisher, 54, as the fought back tears. “I don’t know what happened. It’s just so sad.” Of Gavriel, she said: “He was such a happy baby.” She said Fisher has another son, who is 12, from a different dad. She added she doesn’t know where that boy is living. “Right now the family is in mourning,” said Miriam Lozada, whose son Luis Ortiz is little Gavriel’s father. “I’m going to miss my sweetheart, miss my boy, I’m going to miss him so much,” the tot’s grandma said through sobs.