A deranged Queens dad was charged with brutally murdering his 3-year-old namesake son inside their apartment after the city Medical Examiner ruled the battered little boy was a homicide victim, police said Wednesday.
In addition to murder, Shaquan Butler, 26, was facing manslaughter charges three days after his son died of blunt force trauma to the torso — contradicting his mother’s tale that the boy was choking on a chicken nugget when he ran into a pole and struck his head on the floor this past Sunday night — according to a police source.
The young victim and his two siblings had been taken into city custody in late September and returned the following month — raising questions about why the parents got their kids back so quickly.
Little Shaquan’s body and head were covered with bruises when authorities arrived at the shelter where the couple occupied a unit with their children, sources said. Police are investigating whether the pre-schooler was the victim of repeated savage beatings before first responders found the unconscious child with a faint pulse and visible injuries across his body.
”Right now, it’s too much,” the boy’s great-grandmother told the Daily News on Wednesday evening. “We are going to speak up when we figure out what’s happening.”
Qiana Butler’s grandson Shaquan Butler was found dead on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022 — the boy’s own father charged with the murder.
Qiana Butler’s grandson Shaquan Butler was found dead on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022 — the boy’s own father charged with the murder. (Facebook)
The boy’s accused father, with a lengthy rap sheet of 28 prior arrests, was taken Wednesday with heart palpitations to Elmhurst Hospital, the same facility where the child was pronounced dead.
A source indicated Butler would undergo a psychiatric evaluation after telling police he’d be better off dead.
His grandmother insisted to The News that the suspect is a “kind person.”
The little victim’s grandmother Qiana Butler declined to comment, but as the door to her Bronx apartment closed, she broke down.
“Why?” the heartbroken woman wailed. “Why would he do this?”
The victim’s parents, both with prior arrests, called 911 from the Boulevard Family Residence on Queens Blvd. near Hillyer St. in Elmhurst — but help came too late and the boy died at Elmhurst.
Doctors told cops the tot suffered a heart attack and a punctured lung and had bruises in various stages of healing across his body, police sources said.
Detectives questioned both parents. It was not immediately clear if the senior Shaquan was present when the child fell unconscious. An autopsy by the city Medical Examiner determined the death was a homicide.
The father’s criminal history includes arrests for gang assault, inciting to riot, criminal mischief, petty larceny, grand larceny and weapons possession, while the mother has five priors — one for weapons possession and another for grand larceny.
The mother is on probation for grand larceny.
According to police sources, the family was already under investigation by the Administration for Children’s Services on another allegation.
Following a tip, ACS removed the children from their home in late September, sources added.
Shaquan and his siblings — a 2-year-old and an 11-month old — were returned to the home on Oct. 6.
“Something is wrong here,” a police official said. “She gets the kids back. A month later, one of them is dead.”
In a statement, ACS said it is investigating the case with the NYPD, but would not comment on the family’s history with the agency.
“Our top priority is protecting the safety and well-being of children in New York City,” said spokeswoman Marisa Kaufman.
Neighbors were aghast at the death of the 3-year-old.
“If the parents were in the house when it happened, but they don’t know how the baby died, that’s the sickest part to me,” said neighbor Dana Castarella. “It is horrible — a 3-year-old, a baby.”
The shelter where the family lived was formerly the Pan Am Hotel. Another resident said the family moved into their second-floor apartment less than a year ago for what was intended to be a brief stay.
“They were supposed to be in and out here, fast, but things like that don’t happen here,” said another resident, Santo Rodriguez. “I was surprised to hear this.”