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Infant death probed as homicide; Shaking, blunt-force head injury cited in Heath Street case

A 7-week-old baby boy died from blunt-force injury to the head most likely caused by violently shaking the infant, Buffalo homicide detectives said Tuesday after receiving an autopsy report.

The baby died Thursday in the pediatric intensive-care unit at Women & Children's Hospital, several days after Northeast District police went to his Heath Street home in response to a report of a child who had stopped breathing.

Officer Derrick R. Banaszak administered CPR with assistance from Fire Department personnel, who also responded to the 8:30 a.m. call Nov. 10. The first responders were told that the child began gasping for air after he had been fed and settled down for a rest.

The baby was initially rushed to Sisters Hospital and later transferred to Women & Children's.
Homicide Detectives James A. Lema and Salvatore A. Valvo learned that the boy was suffering from multiple hemorrhages and that there was the "highest probability" he was a victim of shaken-baby syndrome, according to police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge.

An autopsy confirmed those suspicions, revealing that the child suffered brain damage, optical hemorrhaging and a spinal injury.

Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards said the infant's parents were initially cooperative but no longer are helping police in the investigation. He added that his detectives are working with the Erie County District Attorney's Office. Assisting in the probe are Homicide Detective Sgt. James P. Lonergan and Detective Reginald Minor.