DURHAM, N.C. – A 3-year-old girl died after her father tried to drown her and her siblings in an apartment complex pond, police said Wednesday.
Durham Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the girl died in a hospital three days after her fully submerged body was pulled from the pond by an off-duty Durham County sheriff’s deputy.
Alan Tysheen Eugene Lassiter is currently charged with three counts of attempted murder for trying to kill the girl, her sister and their 7-year-old brother. Lassiter is jailed on a bond of $2 million and is awaiting a court hearing next month.
Lassiter’s 5-year-old daughter was also rescued from the pond, but she was found floating and has been released from the hospital. The 7-year-old boy got away from Lassiter and ran for help, police said.
Lassiter initially told residents of an apartment complex he believed his son had been kidnapped and needed help finding him. He flagged down passers-by at the Audubon Lake apartments Sunday night saying he was searching for his son, apartment complex manager Sylvia Scott said Tuesday.
It wasn’t until later that Lassiter told Scott and a 911 operator that he’d thrown his 3- and 5-year-old daughters in the pond, Scott said. The girls were pulled from the water by Durham County Sheriff’s Deputy David Earp, who lives nearby.
Scott said she was the one who called Earp. As the deputy retrieved the girls, Lassiter was standing nearby smoking a cigarette. He became distraught, wailed “What have I done?” and started to cry, Scott said.
Lassiter, 29, of Raleigh, did not live at the apartment complex, according to Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez.
Earp said the girls were about 10 feet from a bank that slopes sharply down to the pond, which is about as long as a football field. The 5-year-old was floating and crying, Earp said. Her 3-year-old sister was fully submerged. Earp said he walked into water about 5 feet deep and snatched each one under an arm.
After getting them safely to land, Earp said he took the 5-year-old to a nearby gazebo and asked Scott and her son to watch over her.
“I knew she was terrified, and I just took her off and didn’t want her to be around her sister,” Earp said.
The five-year veteran of the sheriff’s department said he and the arriving officers from the Durham police department performed CPR on the 3-year-old for about 15 minutes until medical help arrived.
Lassiter admitted trying to drown the children in a 911 call Sunday night. Between expletive-laden rage and distraught sobs, he told a dispatcher officials had tried to take away his children as he dealt with a personal problem.