A California man has been arrested for allegedly drowning his daughter in a church’s baptismal pool before carrying the little girl’s body to a nearby police station, where he begged for help, officials said.
Gerardo Mendoza Ordaz, 42, was found completely naked and screaming for help in the back parking lot of the Healdsburg Police Department at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Police Chief Kevin Burke told reporters.
He was holding his fully clothed, soaking wet and unresponsive 4-year-old daughter as he yelled, police said.
Ordaz’s partially clothed 9-year-old son, who was unharmed, stood next to him, Burke said.
Authorities immediately began trying to revive the little girl, performing CPR on the child before she was rushed to Healdsburg District Hospital.
About 90 minutes later, the 4-year-old girl was pronounced dead, officials said.
“So senseless and tragic. Please keep the family and all those involved in your thoughts and prayers,” the Healdsburg Police Officer’s Association said in a Facebook post.
An autopsy report was pending but police said a preliminary investigation indicated she had been drowned.
Ordaz and his children had apparently come from the nearby St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, where investigators believe he had allegedly drowned his daughter in waters at least a foot deep.
“We do believe she was drowned intentionally,” Burke said at a press conference Monday, according to the Press Democrat.
The church was reportedly often left unlocked for the public and authorities believe Ordaz and his children were the only people inside at the time of the alleged drowning.
“Sunday night there was tragedy in the church; a little girl lost her life,” the church’s pastor, Fr. Sean Rogers, said in a statement. “When police finish the investigation we will know more. In the meantime, please pray for the family, and the parish community.”
Ordaz lives just outside of Healdsburg’s city limits with his wife and their four children, the Press Democrat reported.
The three other children were deemed to be safe with their mother and remained in her care, authorities said.
Ordaz was booked into the Sonoma County Jail with bail and charged with murder, officials said.
He reportedly gave a detailed statement during a police interview conducted in Spanish, but authorities declined to comment on a possible motive for the alleged killing.