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Police: Baby suffocates in babysitter's care

5-month-old killed when adult rolled over baby while sleeping, police say

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 5-month-old boy suffocated while under his babysitter's care early Sunday morning, according to police.

Detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said a sleeping adult rolled over the baby, who was sleeping next to the person in bed. It's unclear if that adult was the babysitter.

The baby, Alrenzo Gordon, was at the babysitter's apartment, in Carington Park off Alden Road, when the incident happened early Sunday morning.

The baby's mother, Charnea Armstrong, left Alrenzo at about 10 p.m. Saturday night with a 54-year-old babysitter, who lives in the back of her apartment complex.

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At 8:30 the next morning, she went to pick the baby up and found out that he had died early that morning.

"So I wake up and I go down there to get my son and find that there were police down there," Armstrong said. "It was taped off and everything. She went to the hospital or whatever like that, and he was pronounced dead."

Police said a sleeping adult rolled onto Alrenzo, suffocating him.

"She should have never shared a bed with my son. I left his carrier there and his bouncer," Armstrong said. "She should have laid him in his carrier or his bouncer."

But child health experts said a baby should never sleep anywhere but in a crib.

Jessica Winberry, an educator for the Players Center for Child Health at Wolson Children's Hospital, teaches safe-sleep classes for parents. The hospital has given away "pack and play" cribs that are available through a grant with Kohl's department store.?

As part of the grant, children are also given "sleep sacks." Parents can put a baby inside of it, and it keeps the baby warm and safe. It also keeps them from needing blankets in a crib, which could suffocate or strangle the child.

Winberry said under no circumstances should parents or caretakers be sleeping in bed with infants.

"You have parents who are sleep-deprived, possibly taking medications if they had a C-section, which makes you further impaired," Winberry said. "So anytime you have someone in bed with you who's really small, it's like an elephant being in a room and rolling over on top of you. They're not going to feel it. So it's the same kind of thing if you have a baby.

"It's such an unfortunate, preventable kind of thing that happens, and unfortunately we're seeing it a lot. Since January we've seen a really huge increase in the amount of deaths like this."

So far this year, 11 infants in Duval County, including Alrenzo, have had sleep-related deaths.

"I'm at a loss for words. I don't know what to say," Armstrong said. "My mind's messed up right now. I don't know what to do. I'm just taking it one day at a time or whatever like this, and I know God has got this and he sits high and looks low."

Detectives are not conducting a criminal investigation into Alrenzo's death, because they do not suspect foul play.

Armstrong described Alrenzo as a happy baby who always brightened her day.

"I'm still hurt, trying to stay strong, trying to stay lifted and keep God first, or whatever like that so I don't break down, and (I) just try to be there for my girls," Armstrong said. "I'm hurt. I'm in pain. I'm stressed. I'm depressed."

News4Jax tried contacting the babysitter to get her side of the story but has not been able to reach her.

The Department of Children and Families is investigating the incident.

DCF is also reaching out to parents about the dangers of bed sharing and educating them on the ABCs of infant sleeping:

  • A – babies sleep safest Alone
  • B – on their Backs
  • C – and in their Cribs.

Other tips to avoid sleep-related death:

  • Make sure the baby's room temperature is not too warm. It should be between 68 to 72 degrees with circulating air.
  • Make sure the baby is not sleeping with a hat on his or her head, and there is nothing additional in the crib.
  • Breast-feeding is really good for infants.
  • Make sure the baby is up-to-date on vaccinations.