Early Saturday morning, hospital officials in Mesa, Arizona, found one of their young patients dead in his bed, his mother dead beside him – the aftermath of an apparent murder-suicide, police tell PEOPLE.
Lola T. Griffith, 27, and her 5-year-old son, Helious, were found at about 2 a.m. local time in the boy’s room at the Cardon Children’s Medical Center, Mesa police spokesman Steve Berry tells PEOPLE.
Lola had been shot to death, Berry says. He declined to release the child’s cause of death, citing the ongoing investigation.
Police are investigating the case as a murder-suicide, Berry says.
The hospital performs bed checks every two hours, he says. Mother and son were last seen alive in Helious’ room at midnight.
The state’s Department of Child Safety had recently been in contact with Lola, Berry says, but he was unable to provide more detail.
Lola’s grandparents told local TV station KNXV that DCS had recently obtained legal custody of Helious, which wrecked their granddaughter, who was a single mother.
They blamed the way the case had been handled.
“I believed in the system for a long time,” Richard Griffith told the station. “I hate the system now.”
PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach a DCS representative for comment.
Berry declined to explain the nature of Helious’ hospitalization but said he had been there for seven or eight days.
Police said no one reported hearing a gun shot in the hospital, according to KNXV.
Helious would have turned 6 on Christmas Eve, Berry says.
A crime like this, he says, is “abnormal for any community.”
The hospital does not have metal detectors.
Berry says that, like entering any large public space, carrying in a concealed firearm would be no more difficult than putting it in a purse.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Banner Health, which owns the hospital, said its policies do prohibit firearms and weapons at its hospitals, as displayed at the entrances.
“The safety of our patients, associates and visitors is paramount to us and is our top priority at this time,” Banner spokesman David Lozano said in the statement. “At no time were others impacted by this incident and we remain vigilant in the safety of all we’re treating and seeing at Cardon Children’s Medical Center.”
Lozano continued, “Our thoughts are with the family and their loss at this time.”
A fundraising page was created at least a few weeks ago under Lola’s name, using many of the same biographical details, such as her son’s name and birthday.
PEOPLE has been unable to verify the page.
The page asks for help to buy a new vehicle for the Phoenix-area woman, named Lola “Tami” Griffith, and her son, named Helious (“like the Greek Sun God”).
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The page says that the child has dystonic cerebral palsy, and that “our small family takes care of my grandparents as well.”
“If you can’t make a donation, that’s okay but PLEASE at least help me get the word out that we need help,” the page says. “We can’t progress any further alone.”
On Oct. 13, an update was posted to the page, announcing one $5 donation: “THANK YOU so much every little bit helps. We are very grateful.”
Stephanie Nowak – the woman who made that donation and who had also posted her own message on Vine asking for help getting her friend a car, according to the Arizona Republic – told the paper that she was a high school friend of Lola’s.
“It is not my place to say anything about her and her family matters,” Nowak said in a message to the Republic. “All I will say is she was an amazing woman and a great friend and I will miss her very much.”