Crime, Law and Justice

Minneapolis toddler dies in shelter under suspicious circumstances, police say

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Minneapolis police are investigating the death of a two-year-old girl Tuesday, which they say occurred under suspicious circumstances.

Police were called to the Higher Ground Catholic Charities shelter near downtown Minneapolis around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on a report of an unresponsive child. Officers found the two-year-old unresponsive in a room with drug paraphernalia around her. 

According to police, officers administered Narcan and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The child was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center, where she later died. 

Police chief Brian O’Hara said investigators are looking into the circumstances of the girl’s death.

“I am horrified and saddened by this tragedy,” O’Hara said. “Our investigators are fully committed to finding the facts and figuring out how this little girl died.” 

Two adults and a seven-year-old child were in the apartment unit of the shelter with the two-year-old. The other child was not injured. Investigators spoke with both adults. 

In a statement, Catholic Charities Twin Cities staff said the children were visitors who had not been signed in, in violation of the shelter’s policies. Staff said they were unaware that any visitors were present until police arrived in response to a call.

“We are grieving the loss of this young life,” Catholic Charities staff said. “As our community struggles with the opioid epidemic, our staff at Catholic Charities work every day to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”

Shelter residents sign agreements not to use illegal substances on the property, but the organization says issues of substance abuse still arise.

Police said no arrests had been made as of Wednesday morning. 

Forensic scientists and detectives with the police department are investigating. The Hennepin County medical examiner will determine the cause of the child’s death.

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