A California father has been charged with suspicion of murder in the death of his 4-year-old daughter, who drowned in a baptismal pool in a local Catholic church, according to multiple reports.
Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz, 42, was arrested by Healdsburg police on Sunday, Fox’s KTVU reported. Prior to his arrest, he allegedly showed up in the back parking lot of a police station fully naked carrying his unresponsive daughter, who was fully clothed and soaking wet.
They had allegedly been at the baptismal pool at Healdsburg’s St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, the Associated Press reported, where police suspect Ordaz intentionally drowned the girl.
Ordaz allegedly arrived in the lot and began yelling for help at around 8:30 p.m., the Press Democrat reported. His 9-year-old son was also with him, wearing shorts and no shirt, Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke said, according to the paper.
After police attempted to revive the girl with CPR, she was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead, Burke said in a Monday press conference posted to the Press Democrat‘s YouTube page.
The boy did not appear to be injured, Burke said.
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“We do believe she was drowned intentionally,” Burke said. Ordaz was booked into the Sonoma County Jail without bail. It was not immediately clear whether he had entered a plea or retained an attorney.
Police said the church was left unlocked for the public on Sundays into the evening — and that the family were allegedly the only ones inside at the time of the girl’s death.
The baptismal pool inside the church is estimated to be about eight feet wide, 10 feet long, and at least one foot deep, the Press Democrat reported.
“Sunday night there was tragedy in the church; a little girl lost her life,” the church’s pastor Fr. Sean Rogers wrote in a statement posted to the Santa Rosa Diocese’s website. “When police finish the investigation we will know more. In the meantime, please pray for the family, and the parish community.”
An autopsy has been scheduled, KTVU reported.