Not long after the officers’ arrival, the stepfather called 911, threatening suicide. He was found unharmed and taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, the police said.
It is unclear whether the family has a history with the police or child welfare authorities.
Marquice Seals, 29, said he was walking up a stairwell in the building early Sunday when he heard a woman screaming, “Call an ambulance, that little boy can’t breathe! He’s not moving!”
A moment later, he said he saw Jaycee laid out in the hallway face up with his arms outstretched. His face was swollen and purple. His mother and stepfather were crying as his older brother stood close by, Mr. Seals said.
Within minutes, two officers rushed into the hallway, and one began performing CPR, he said.
Mr. Seals said the mother’s boyfriend told officers that Jaycee had fallen off the bed and had hit his head.
“It didn’t sound right,” he said. “I’m not going to pass judgment, I wasn’t there. But it didn’t sound right.”
Nikeya Birmingham, 32, who lives directly above the family, said the couple has been in the building for about a year. She said she had called the police at least four times because they were yelling at each other so loudly that it sometimes awakened her in the middle of the night.
That was the case around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, she said.
“I was yelling through the pipes, ‘Go to bed! Shut up!’” she said.
Still, she said, she never heard the children or suspected they were being abused.
“He’s supposed to be walking to school tomorrow like all these other kids, with a new backpack and new shoes,” Ms. Birmingham said of Jaycee. “Now he’ll never breathe again.”