The heartbroken dad of the 1-year-old boy who died after inhaling fentanyl at a Bronx day care center that served as a front for a drug mill has hired an attorney - and said Monday that his four other kids don't want to go to school because they're now scared they won't make it home.
"They don't want to die in school," Otoniel Feliz, the dad of tragic tot Nicholas Feliz Dominici, told reporters while joined by his lawyer, Jeffrey Chartier, outside the family home in Kingsbridge.
"All my four kids don't want to go to school because they don't want the same as Nicholas [to happen to them]," he continued. "It's really hard ... we are all heartbroken."
Feliz, a golf course maintenance worker in Westchester County, said his little son had only been going to Divino Nino Daycare nearby for a week before his death on Friday.
"The drugs ... this is dangerous," he said. "My boy died. But it can be yours."
Two people - Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, the daycare's proprietor, and her cousin-in-law Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41 - were arrested Sunday and charged with murder for Dominici's death. Cops are still hunting for Ventura's husband, who lived with her next door to the center.
Fentanyl, the powerful opioid - which is at least 50 times stronger than heroin - was being cut up for sale at the day care center, allowing it to float into the air and get into the kids' lungs, authorities said.
Three other children - two 2-year-old boys and an 8-month-old girl - remain hospitalized after they were similarly exposed, authorities said.
On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams said the three other children were saved using naloxone, the overdose-reversal drug commonly known by its brand name, Narcan.
"It's a tragedy - and it's a preventable tragedy, which is the worst," Chartier, the Feliz family attorney, told The Post.
"The saddest thing is, you entrust your children's welfare with people, and they violate that trust and cause the death of your child - there's nothing worse," he added.
The family found the day care center through a local community center, their attorney said.
And Feliz said they filled out a lot of paperwork to make sure it was a good fit.
"Parents are supposed to take care of their kids, and when we trust them to do the same - things weren't equal," he said.
"These are things that aren't supposed to happen."
Owner of Bronx day care where 1-year-old died after believed fentanyl exposure, neighbor taken into police custody
The owner of a Bronx day care and a neighbor were taken into police custody Saturday in connection with the death of a 21-month-old boy and the sickening of three other kids from fentanyl found at the facility, sources told The Post.
Charges are pending against Divino Nino owner Grei Mendez De Ventura and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, who sources said hails from the Dominican Republic and is a new arrival in the United States. The 41-year-old Brito's legal status is unclear.
A third suspect, who is believed to have sublet a room inside the child-care center, is still being sought.
Ventura, 36, opened the Morris Avenue day care in May, and the facility passed a surprise annual inspection Sept. 6, records show.
Nearly a kilo of fentanyl and a kilo press, a device typically used to combine fentanyl with either cocaine or heroin, was found inside the space apartment that was also used by the day care, officials and police sources said.
The children are believed to have inhaled the deadly drug, sources said.
The mother and grandmother of two of the survivors - a 2-year-old boy in critical condition at Montefiore Hospital and his 8-month-old sister - praised the police work.
"It's good, it's very good. I want justice, because what happened here is unbelievable," the mom of the two kids told The Post.
"All guilt will be paid," said the children's grandmother. Both women asked for anonymity.
The horrific scene unfolded around 2:40 p.m. Friday, when the four tots - the 1-year-old boy, two 2-year-old boys and an 8-month-old girl - were found unresponsive in the day care, sources said.
Two of the kids were in cardiac arrest when first responders arrived at the facility, with 21-month-old Nicholas Dominici and the 2-year-old boy being given multiple doses of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan, authorities said.
Nicholas later died at Montefiore Hospital.
A fourth child picked up from the day care center just before 1 p.m. Friday also appeared to have been exposed to drugs, officials said.
His mother rushed her 2-year-old son to Bronxcare Hospital when she realized the child, who had appeared to have been sleeping, was unresponsive. THe child is recovering, authorities said.
Suspected Сmain player' in fentanyl operation at NYC day care where 1-year-old died is being sought by cops
The NYPD is hunting a man believed to be "the main player" in the covert drug-dealing operation at a Bronx day care where a 1-year-old boy died from suspected fentanyl exposure, police sources said Monday.
The suspect - the husband of Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, the proprietor of Divino Ni?±o Daycare - may have played a key role in the illicit dealings uncovered after the Friday death of little Nicholas Feliz Dominici, the sources said.
He is also the cousin of alleged cohort Caristo Acevedo Brito, 41, who was busted Sunday along with De Ventura.
Brito lived in the basement that also housed the day-care business, where three other children were also exposed to the deadly drug, the sources said.
Those children - two 2-year-old boys and the 8-month-old sister of one of them - were hospitalized, with one in critical condition, according to police.
De Ventura and Brito were charged with murder, manslaughter, assault, drug possession and child endangerment in connection to the disturbing case.
Both were ordered held without bail during their arraignments Sunday night.
Cops responded to a 911 call from the child care center on Morris Avenue near East 196th Street in Kingsbridge shortly after 3:30 p.m. Friday and found three of the children unresponsive - allegedly after being exposed to fentanyl, according to cops.
At least some of the children were administered the opioid overdose reversal medication Narcan to try to save them.
Nicholas was rushed to Montefiore Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
His grief-stricken mother told CBS New York in Spanish that her son, who was going to turn 2 in November, was just getting adjusted to the day care, which he had only started attending the week before his tragic death and which is located within walking distance of the family's home.
"We spoke to the ones who are in charge," she said. "They recommended that place and apparently complied with all of the rules. We were on a waitlist for our son to qualify."
The boy, who was the youngest of five children, was "so intelligent," his mom said.
"He would repeat everything you would say to him," she added. "He had so much love. Everyone who knew him appreciated him, all of our neighbors."
Among the other children hospitalized, one of the 2-year-old boys was listed in critical condition while the 8-month-old girl was in stable condition.
The third toddler was taken to BronxCare Health Systems by an acquaintance and was also listed in stable condition.
Authorities found three "kilogram press devices" - used to package large amounts of drugs - along with a kilo of fentanyl at the day care, prosecutors revealed in court filings.
They also discovered a one-kilogram package of a white, powdery substance - which later tested positive for fentanyl - inside a hallway closet, the court documents state.
De Ventura is due back in court Thursday, and Brito on Friday, the Bronx District Attorney's Office said.
Owner of Bronx day care where 1-year-old died of opioid overdose wasted precious minutes calling alleged drug accomplices before 911: sources
The owner of the Bronx day care where a 1-year-old boy died after inhaling fentanyl called two alleged accomplices in the covert drug operation - including her husband - and a third person before finally dialing 911 for help, law enforcement sources told The Post.
The husband of Grei Mendez De Ventura, the 36-year-old proprietor of Divino Ni?±o Daycare, was also spotted on surveillance footage suspiciously carrying out a large bag before first responders arrived, police sources said.
De Ventura "wasted precious minutes" making the trio of phone calls after little Nicholas Feliz Dominici and three other children were exposed to fentanyl on Friday, one police source said.
"How callous could she be?" asked the incredulous law enforcement source.
De Ventura phoned her husband - who's on the lam and is considered the "main player" in the drug mill - her already-arrested cousin-in-law Carlisto Acevedo Brito, and a friend before seeking medical help around 3:30 p.m.
"She wasted precious minutes, worrying about herself and the drug dealers. When she should've been most concerned about saving these innocent babies' lives," the police source said.
When Nicholas was finally rushed to the hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Before emergency responders arrived, Ventura's husband was seen on surveillance footage showing up to the day care, entering through a back door, staying a few minutes, then leaving with a bag large enough to hold several kilos of illicit drugs, according to sources.
Ventura and her husband spoke numerous times on the phone after he left, police sources said.
She and Brito, 41, have both been arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter, assault, drug possession and child endangerment.
After raiding the day care Friday, cops "discovered a kilogram of fentanyl in an area that was used to give the children naps," NYPD Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny said Monday.
They also found three "kilogram press devices," which are used to package large amounts of drugs.
The kiddies apparently inhaled the drugs after it was cut in the day care center and released into the air, sources said.
Some of the youngsters were administered the opioid overdose drug Narcan. The girl and one of the 2-year-old boys are now in stable condition.
Neighbors said it was an open secret around the neighborhood that the day care was a drug front, explaining that the business opened more than a year ago and adults frequently came and went - but that a child wasn't to be seen in the place until about two months ago.
"We all said, 'Drogas.' How could you not know?" said a longtime resident, 69, who declined to be named.
"It was a day care for a year with no children. For one year, she had a day care with no children but people go in. But no babies?"
"A day care with no children and men coming in and out. Yes, we knew something. We knew something, something was not good happening there," she said.
Despite such accounts, the day care managed to pass a surprise inspection from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Sept. 6, according to records.
Divino Ni?±o Daycare is technically under the purview of the state's Office of Children and Family Services - but inspection duties have been outsourced to the city for years at the price of millions in taxpayer dollars.
On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams said inspectors did everything they were supposed to do during their review, but that Ventura and her cohorts had broken a relationship partly "based on trust."
"They [inspectors] did their job. Who did not do their job were the people who were there to protect the children," Adams said. "Everything appeared normal based on the standards we put in place to make sure, surely not in a safe environment."
"Part of this relationship is based on trust and they broke that trust."
Anguished mom of 1-year-old who died of suspected opioid death at Bronx day care speaks out
The heartbroken mom of 1-year-old Nicholas Feliz Dominici, who died from a suspected opioid overdose at a Bronx daycare being used as a drug front, said her son had only started at the center the week before, as horrifying details were revealed about the drugs strewn about at the scene.
Zoila Dominici and Otoniel Feliz's 1-year-old son Nicholas was still getting adjusted to the day care when he and three other tots fell ill from fentanyl found at the facility on Friday, according to the grief-stricken mother.
..... We were on a waitlist for our son to qualify," his mother told CBS New York in Spanish.
Nicholas, who would have celebrated his 2nd birthday in November, was "so intelligent."
The owner of Divino Ni?±o Daycare, Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, and her alleged cohort, Caristo Acevedo Brito, 41, who lived in the basement along with the drugged-up day-care business, were taken into custody on Saturday.
The pair was charged with murder, assault and child endangerment in the suspected fentanyl-exposure death of 1-year-old Nicholas.
Police have launched a manhunt for Ventura's husband, who lived with her next door and is also sought in the boy's death, sources said.
Nicholas, who was the youngest of five children, and his family lived within walking distance of the home-based day-care center, which was recommended to the family by Kingsbridge Heights Community Center.
The day care, registered under the city's Department of Children and Family Services, only opened this past January but passed a surprise inspection about a week earlier.
"Apparently, the place passed all of the inspections. Supposedly that apartment was only for day cares, but the rumor is, from what we have heard, they also rented rooms," Feliz said.
The children were apparently exposed when the fentanyl was cut in the day-care center and some of it floated into the air, allowing them to inhale it, law enforcement sources explained.
..... Friday and found three of the children unresponsive. .....
"Look at what happened. If I had known, I wouldn't have taken him," the boy's mother said.
His grieving father added: "The hardest thing is for me to come home and open that door and not see Nicholas saying, СDad, Dad.' It is too hard. We can't. Because the irresponsibility of people that don't know, they don't know that playing with drugs and leaving them where kids can reach them is too dangerous."
The medical examiner's office says Nicholas' exact cause of death is pending.
A criminal investigation into the day-care center is ongoing.
Bronx day care center owner, neighbor charged in 1-year-old's death after possible fentanyl exposure
The owner of the Bronx day care center where a 1-year-old boy died after being exposed to what may have been fentanyl on Friday was charged Saturday night with murder along with her neighbor, police announced.
Divino Nino owner Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, and neighbor Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, were arrested on Saturday and each hit with 11 charges, including depraved-indifference murder, assault and child endangerment after the horrific incident that also sent three children to the hospital, cops said Saturday.
The pair were taken into police custody on Saturday after a search of the building revealed nearly a kilo of fentanyl, as well as multiple kilo presses - a device used to combine fentanyl with other drugs like cocaine and heroin, officials and sources said.
Ventura, who sources say is a native of the Dominican Republic who recently moved to the US, opened the Kingsbridge day care in May and the facility passed a surprise annual inspection Sept. .....
21-month-old Nicholas Dominici died on Friday after he and three other toddlers - a 1-year-old boy, two 2-year-old boys and an 8-month-old girl - were found unresponsive in the basement after they are believed to have inhaled the deadly drug.
Nicholas was rushed to Montefiore hospital, where he died, police said.
Police said Saturday night that the 2-year-old boy remains in critical condition and the 8-month-old female is listed in stable condition.
He was privately transported to BronxCare Health System and is in stable condition, cops said.
In addition to murder, they are each also charged with: manslaughter of a person under 11 years old; manslaughter recklessly causing death; four counts assault causing injury through risk of death; four counts of assault causing injury during a felony; four counts of assault causing serious injury; four counts of reckless assault causing serious injury; three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance; criminal possession of a controlled substance; criminal possession of narcotics; and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Friday was the end of Nicholas' first week at the Morris Avenue day care, the boy's grieving father Otoniel Feliz, told reporters.
He said he initially thought his son was sick from carbon monoxide poisoning.
"It was a peaceful place, it seemed like they would take good care [of the kids]. They always keep in contact with us. Everything seemed fine," he said.
"We expected that we were taking our son to a place where he would be taken care of, not to the funeral home."
Family of tots hospitalized from possible exposure to fentanyl at NYC day care speaks out: СIt's all just too much'
The family of a Bronx 2-year-old left in critical condition after allegedly being possibly exposed to fentanyl at his day care - - where another toddler died and two others were left seriously ill - was reeling Saturday.
"It's all just too much right now," said the boy's devastated mother, whose 8-month-old daughter was also hospitalized after authorities said she was exposed to the deadly drug at the day care.
When the distraught mom sought answers from Divino Nino Day Care owner, Grei Mendez de Ventura, the woman said only, "I don't know what happened," the child's grandmother told The Post.
"So much irresponsibility. They are babies," the woman, who did not want to give her name, fumed. "It's her job to care for them, protect them. She needs consequences."
Nearly a kilo of a drug believed to be fentanyl, and multiple kilo presses, were found inside the day care, sources said.
The drugs were found in the rear of the tiny apartment.
Mendez de Ventura and a man she sublet a room to at the day care, Carlisto Acevedo Brito , have been taken into police custody in the case.
Drug charges are pending and a third suspect is being sought, sources said.
The grandma showed The Post a disturbing photo of her 2-year-old grandson passed out, face up, laying on a playmat on the floor, with his 8-month-old sister passed out in a crib next to him.
The family initially thought the boy had died, she said.
"What? How? Where?" she cried out, after the child's parents called her.
"The daycare," the kids' father answered, after seeing his son unconscious and that his daughter "couldn't breathe," the grandmother said.
Both were rushed to Montefiore Hospital and administered multiple doses of Narcan.
The boy remains in critical condition and the girl was in stable condition late Saturday afternoon, police said.
Four children were at the day care Friday, she said.
The baby girl is "doing better today, but she's on a lot of drugs," the grandmother said, but her brother "is not doing well."
Lamented the grandmom of her devastated daughter and her husband: "She's a good mom. She takes good care of her kids. They have all the love for them," she said of the couple.
"I can't believe this happened. I really can't," she said, tearing up.
Bronx day care suspects hauled off to face charges after apparent fentanyl exposure killed toddler, hospitalized 3 others
The Bronx day-care center where one tot died and three others were hospitalized from suspected fentanyl exposure was being used as a drug front, police sources said Sunday - as its owner was hauled to court.
Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, the proprietor of Divino Nino Daycare, was stoic as she was led out of the 52nd Precinct, followed by alleged cohort Caristo Acevedo Brito, 41 - who lived in the basement along with the drugged-up day-care business.
Brito hid his face from reporters as he was walked from the precinct wearing a white baseball cap and putting his head down. He was put in a separate NYPD car for the trip to Bronx Criminal Court.
Police said Mendez was later taken to Lincoln Hospital for a medical evaluation and is listed in stable condition.
The suspects - who face raps including murder - did not respond to questions from reporters outside the precinct.
Both suspects are awaiting arraignment.
In addition to the depraved indifference murder charge, the pair is facing a slew of charges including manslaughter, reckless endangerment of a child, assault and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Additional reporting by Haley Brown