An 8-month-old boy was murdered by his father at a Bronx shelter for homeless families, police said Wednesday.
Little Elijah Rodriguez, who was being monitored by the city's child welfare agency, suffered "blunt trauma to the abdomen" Tuesday, the medical examiner's office said. He had fist-shaped bruises on his stomach.
His death was declared a homicide due to "fatal child-abuse syndrome."
After hours of questioning, 42nd Precinct detectives charged Elijah's father, John Rodriguez, 21, with murder and manslaughter Wednesday night.
The baby's mother, Wanda Rosado, 21, branded him a killer.
"In front of me he was the perfect dad," Rosado said through tears outside the stationhouse. "I never saw him hit our baby, but he killed my son."
Rosado's mother, Rosa Ciruz, 47, of the Bronx, said detectives told her Rodriguez had "confessed to everything."
"He said to the detectives he was angry. The baby wouldn't stop crying, so he hit him in the stomach twice," Ciruz said.
The Administration for Children's Services said it had opened a case on the couple after Elijah suffered a broken arm in August, an injury Rodriguez said occurred in an accidental fall. "John said he put the baby in a bouncer [seat] and didn't strap him in," Rosado recalled.
Police said they had two domestic abuse complaints against Rodriguez. People who knew the parents said they fought like cats and dogs but never were seen abusing Elijah.
Police said Rosado left Elijah with Rodriguez at the West Farms shelter when she went to her job as a home attendant Tuesday morning. The unemployed Rodriguez was filling in for the baby's regular baby-sitter, who had a doctor's appointment.
Shortly after 1 p.m., investigators said, Rodriguez brought the unconscious infant to the Bronx Health Center on Washington Ave. The doctors found the suspicious bruises on his stomach. Elijah underwent emergency surgery at Lincoln Hospital but could not be saved.
As cops escorted Rodriguez out of the stationhouse Wednesday night, about 20 outraged family members swarmed around him.
"Why did you do it?" they yelled. "You will suffer for this!"
After an impassive Rodriguez was put into a police vehicle, the mob pounded on the car.
"We waited for him to see us," said Rosado's sister Gloria Sanchez, 31. "He killed his own son and not one tear."