Three babies were among five people stabbed early Friday at an unlicensed day care center in New York by an employee who then tried to kill herself, officials said.
The victims — two girls and a boy, plus two adults — were in critical but stable condition Friday at local hospitals, New York police said.
The babies range in age from 3 days to 1 month, New York police Assistant Chief Juanita Holmes told reporters Friday.
The facility was used mostly by Chinese women who give birth and stay there before returning to China, a law enforcement source tells CNN.
Neighbors say it was frequented mostly by Chinese parents, but Koreans and Africans were also seen there.
Nine babies, along with some of their parents, had been in the center during the attack, Holmes said.
“There was one child with more serious injuries than the other two,” Holmes said. “At one point, we thought she might have been likely (to die), but, thank God, she was upgraded.”
The father of one injured child and a woman who works at the Queens day care were also attacked, according to police. The man was stabbed in the leg, and the woman was stabbed repeatedly in the torso, Holmes said.
The suspect, a 52-year-old woman employed at the center, was taken to a hospital after slashing her wrist, police said. She is in custody.
Two knives were recovered, police said.
The motive in the 3:45 a.m. attack was unclear, police spokesman Lt. Thomas Antonetti said.
The red brick, multifamily house on a tree-lined street in the Flushing area of Queens appeared to be used as a day care center, though state officials said it was not licensed.
“We have seen some paperwork indicating that it is a day care,” Holmes said, adding the documents “indicated that they were a nursery.”
Part of building served as “living quarters,” she said.
But the site is not listed as the location of a licensed or regulated child care program with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, agency spokeswoman Monica Mahaffey said in a statement.
“OCFS is saddened by this horrific situation and investigating it as a possible illegal operation,” she said.
State-regulated child care programs are prohibited from caring for infants younger than than 6 weeks old unless they receive prior approval from OCFS, the statement said.
“Any request must include physician medical approval and detail the extenuating circumstances necessitating such a request,” the statement said.
The city’s Buildings Department had received several complaints against the property, including the possibility that it was being illegally used as a hotel, records show. Department inspectors were unable to gain access to the home on several occasions.
The city had received a complaint in 2011 of “screaming children” at the residence, Holmes said, noting that the call came to a city hotline.
Of the children present during Friday’s assault, five were girls and four were boys, she said.
Correction: A previous headline of this story incorrectly stated the suspect killed herself. The headline has been updated.