A New York man intentionally plowed his vehicle into a family of eight outside of a 7-Eleven on Wednesday, killing the mother after the father told him not to smoke near his children, police said.
Jason Mendez, 35, is accused of using his car to mow down all eight family members after he got into a dispute with the father, who allegedly told him to stop blowing smoke near his children, CBS New York reported.
Police said Mendez, a Washingtonville resident, then crashed into the Haverstraw 7-Eleven in Rockland County before putting his vehicle into reverse and striking the family once more.
“This is a tragedy, a senseless tragedy,” Haverstraw police Capt. Martin Lund told the Rockland/Westchester Journal News.
Allegedly, after Mendez struck the family, he got out of his vehicle brandishing a knife. When he refused to obey officers’ commands to drop his weapon, the officers used a Taser to subdue him.
Medics rushed all eight family members, including six children under the age of ten, to nearby hospitals. The mother was pronounced dead, and the seven family members remained in the hospital, officials said.
The father and the three younger children, including an 11-month-old, a two-year-old, and a three-year-old, suffered serious injuries.
The older children, ages 5, 7, and 10, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Authorities identified the deceased mother as 32-year-old Melissa Castillo DeLoatch.
WABC reported Thursday that DeLoatch, who was pregnant with a seventh child, threw herself in front of a stroller containing one of her children.
“She was laying on the ground,” witness Allison Rodriguez told the station. “Carriage was there. Nobody was around her. We just kind of knew she wasn’t going to make it.”
Authorities charged Mendez with second-degree murder and seven counts of second-degree attempted murder, as well as three lesser charges of criminal possession of a weapon, menacing, and resisting arrest. The suspect pleaded not guilty to the charges.