A Black Rock couple was flabbergasted to learn their 5-year-old son brought a wrapped "ten pack" of heroin into his day care center Tuesday, passing it off to other children as "candy."
Howell Street residents Wayne Clamp and Kari Lyn Lee believe their son somehow obtained the package somewhere near or inside of the YWCA Schoolhouse Commons day care center at 1005 Grant St. as he and his two sisters, aged 2 and 4, were being walked there by Lee about 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The boy's parents think he thought he'd found some candy and handed it out to his sisters and friends inside.
"It was all wrapped up in waxed paper and they had smile faces stamped on them like these M&Ms," Clamp said, showing a reporter an M&M candy bag. Clamp said he was shown the packets of heroin by police after it was confiscated.
"He didn't think it was something bad," Clamp said. "He said it smelled like bread crumbs."
The boy apparently had passed about four of the packages around to as many as five other children -- ages 2 through 4 -- in the day care center, according to Buffalo police reports. All six exposed children were rushed by ambulance to Women and Children's Hospital.
The 2-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy both apparently ingested the heroin and tested positive, as did a 2 1/2 -year-old girl classmate. None of the children was reported to have been seriously injured. All were treated and released.
Buffalo police took the heroin to a lab for analysis.
Clamp and Lee's three children, as well as Lee's 7-year-old son, were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services. A Family Court judge placed them in the care of Lee's mother pending a July 11 court date.
Clamp and Lee both insist the heroin did not come from their house. They said they don't use drugs and can't understand why their children were removed from their house.
Meanwhile, operations at the daycare center -- located in the former School 42, a large brick building that also houses senior apartments, office space and the Native American Center -- were suspended by the state Office of Child and Family Services, pending investigation into the incident.
Neither officials from the Office of Children & Family Services nor Katherine Lwebuga-Mukasa, the chief executive officer for the local YWCA, could be reached after hours Thursday for comment. Other officials at the YWCA refused to comment.
Humboldt Parkway resident Tracy Pritchett, the adoptive mother of twin 2 1/2 -year-old girls -- one of whom tested positive for the presence of the drugs -- still wasn't sure late Thursday who was to blame for the incident, but she was upset it could happen at a day care center she believed was safe.
"It's unbelievable," Pritchett said. "There's a huge lack of supervision between either the parents of the children or the providers there."
Pritchett, also a mother of five biological children, said her adopted twin daughters already have had a rough start to their young lives. The twins are developmentally delayed because of being exposed to narcotics in their first year of life by their biological mother, who was a drug abuser.
"They were born premature, they have delayed speech and intellectual functions . . . they've already beat a lot of the odds and then this happens to them," Pritchett said. "She could have been killed."
News Staff Reporter Harold McNeil contributed to this report.