By Colleen Long
A New York City police officer shot her 1-year-old son, the baby's father and then herself in an apparent double murder-suicide at her Flatbush home Monday morning, police said.
The bodies were discovered after her 19-year-old son, who was sleeping in his bedroom, heard an argument between the two adults and saw his mother with a gun, said chief police spokesman Paul Browne. The young man escaped through a window and called 911, but by the time police arrived moments later, the three others were dead, Browne said.
The body of the 33-year-old father, Dason Peters, was found in the entry of the first-floor apartment on a quiet, tree-lined street in Flatlands, authorities said. The bodies of Rosette Samuel, 43, and her baby boy, Dylan, were found face up on the bed in her bedroom.
The couple lived together, but it wasn't clear if they were married.
The officer and baby were apparently shot in the chest. It's not clear where Peters was struck, or how many rounds were fired. The teenager, Dondre Samuel, who is the officer's son from a previous relationship, was uninjured.
It was unclear what prompted the dispute. No note was found, and there was nothing in her police records to indicate she had been troubled, authorities said.
Ionie Brown-Johnson, a retired health care worker who lives four doors down from Samuel, said the two women would greet each other when the officer took the baby for walks, either cradling him or pushing him in a stroller.
"She looked happy when she walked with the child in her arms," said Brown-Johnson, 73. "I'm asking myself, what could be the cause of her doing this?"
Police were still investigating and had blocked off the street as onlookers in the working-class neighborhood clustered nearby.
Samuel joined the New York Police Department in 2000 and was most recently assigned to a precinct in Queens.
A next-door neighbor who identified herself as an aunt said she could find no reason for the deaths. Agnes Samuel, 83, said the officer was always smiling and waving to her, and seemed like a happy person.
"It's terrible," Samuel said as she choked up. "For people to take a life like that. Oh, Lord!"
Around the corner from the crime scene, 19-year-old Stephen Elias, a friend of Dondre's, said he was relieved the teenager had escaped.
He said the family had lived in the neighborhood at least a decade. Dondre skateboarded and played soccer with kids in the neighborhood, and "kept himself out of trouble," Elias said, but his mother didn't like some of his friends.
"She looked very angry a lot of the time — just angry," said Elias, clenching his jaw and staring ahead to demonstrate "how she was most of the time." He added, "I don't know what made her so mad."
On Monday morning, Elias learned of the shooting from a police scanner he occasionally monitors.
"The address was 805 East 56 Street," the teen said. "And I said, 'That's Dondre's house!'"