ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – An 18-year-old man is accused of trying to strangle two infants at the newborn nursery of a Texas hospital.
Officers with the Odessa Police Department arrested Marcus McCowan Jr. on Monday after they were called to Odessa Regional Medical Center around 6:30 p.m. on a report that a man was choking an infant.
McCowan was visiting the hospital because his girlfriend was in labor, according to an affidavit.
A nurse said McCowan approached her at the nurse’s station and grabbed her arm and made an “unintelligible statement.” He was asked to leave, but he then began running back and forth in the hall performing actions nurses described as “odd and unreasonable.”
McCowan then reportedly approached a new mom who was holding her newborn in a carrier while waiting to be discharged, the affidavit said. The nurses said McCown focused his attention on the newborn but walked away when the mother moved her child out of sight.
A short time later, nurses said, they saw McCowan running toward them while yelling and screaming. According to the affidavit, McCowan charged three nurses and tried to enter the nursery, which was locked and inaccessible to the public.
McCowan reportedly pushed one nurse to the ground while trying to break into the nursery but initially failed to gain access, the affidavit said.
McCowan then grabbed the newborn in the carrier from its mother and took the baby into the nearby lactation room, according to the affidavit. A nurse followed him inside and reportedly saw him with his hands around the baby’s neck, causing the infant’s face to change color from lack of oxygen, the affidavit said.
Nurses wrestled the baby away from McCowan and he was removed from the room, according to the affidavit. Shortly thereafter, a respiratory therapist heard yelling and saw McCowan force his way into the nursery, where, the therapist said, McCowan grabbed another newborn and began strangling her with both hands.
The therapist said McCowan then picked up the baby — who had since turned blue — by her neck and began to shake her.
The therapist said McCowan said “die” to the infant and made a move as though he were going to throw her to the ground, according to the affidavit. The therapist tried to get the suspect to release the baby while also attempting to keep the child from falling until help arrived.
Officers arrested McCowan after a brief scuffle during which he tried to resist, according to the affidavit. Investigators said as he was being escorted away, he tried twice to take an officer’s gun from his holster but was unsuccessful.
McCowan has been charged with two counts of attempted capital murder, as well as assault, assault of a public servant, resisting arrest, attempting to take a weapon from an officer, criminal trespass, and possession of a controlled substance.
McCowan was taken to the Ector County Law Enforcement Center, and his bond was set at a combined $228,000.
ORMC’s President Stacey Brown released the following statement:
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to those who responded to the incident last evening, especially our nurses, therapists and security team who worked diligently to protect innocent babies and others. The staff and physicians, along with the response team from the Odessa Police Department, are incredible heroes and we are all so grateful to each of them. Our attention is now focused on caring for and supporting those who were impacted by this including our patients, their families, and our staff.”