A 10-year-old boy who was taken to a hospital in critical condition from an apartment complex in Lancaster after suffering an injury died at a hospital, and his death is being investigated Friday as “suspicious” as questions are being raised about how the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services handles the cases of violent, dysfunctional families.
Deputies went to the 1100 block of East Avenue K about noon Wednesday “regarding a medical rescue call of a 10-year old boy not breathing,” a sheriff’s department statement said.
“Upon arrival, the victim was discovered in his family’s apartment unresponsive,” the statement said. “The victim was reported to have suffered injuries from a fall.”
The boy, identified by the Department of Children and Family Services as Anthony Avalos, was taken to a hospital, and died about 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the sheriff’s department reported. An autopsy is pending.
“The death is considered suspicious, and the cause will be investigated by the coroner’s office,” the statement said. “This is an active investigation and no arrests have been made. Seven children, ranging from 11 months to 12 years old — who either lived at the home, or were associated with the victim’s family — have been removed from the home pending further investigation.”
Authorities had contact with the family “prior to this incident,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told the Los Angeles Times.
The boy’s aunt says she contacted authorities three years ago to report suspicion that her sister and her boyfriend were guilty of child abuse. She says nothing was done.
“As a community, we ask why a child had to suffer abuse and how we lose innocent children,” DCFS Director Bobby Cagle said in a statement. ”Whether down the street, in a neighboring county, or across the nation. How does this happen?”
In 2013, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale died at the hands of his mother and stepfather after suffering months of torture. A subsequent investigation resulted in criminal charges being filed against four social workers connected to Fernandez’s case.
Anyone with information about the Avalos’ case was urged to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500, or (800) 222-TIPS.
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