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Police: Mother dead, 2 children "fighting for their lives" after Brooklyn hammer attack

Man accused of bludgeoning roommate to death, attacking 2 children
Man accused of bludgeoning roommate to death, attacking 2 children 01:59

NEW YORK -- Police say a mother was killed and her two young children are fighting for their lives after a hammer attack in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, on Wednesday.

A man, the victim's roommate, is in custody.

Police say around 2:50 p.m., officers responded to a 911 call reporting an assault in progress at an apartment building on 52nd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues.  

For hours, crime scene investigators combed through the second-floor apartment where police say a 43-year-old married mother of two was beaten to death with a hammer. Her two young children were also attacked.

"The 5-year-old son and the 3-year-old daughter are fighting for their lives," Chief of Patrol John Chell said.

Police say it was a gruesome scene. The suspect was arrested while trying to leave the building with blood all over his body.

"He's back at the precinct. The detectives will do what they do best. What I can describe to you is a small apartment, three rooms occupied by three separate families, if you will. So tight quarters. Don't know what the dispute was about, but we'll figure it out," Chief of Patrol John Chell said.

Watch: Police provide update on deadly Brooklyn hammer attack

Police provide update on deadly Brooklyn hammer attack 04:38

"I feel sad, especially with two little children," neighbor Lailing Queenie Yu said.

We're told the apartment has three bedrooms. The victim and her children occupied one room, the suspect and his 9-year-old son another, and a single adult occupied the third.

"Now his own child is what? Abandoned? Become an orphan?" Yu said.

"It's very rare in our community, very rare in our community to have this kind of violence. Back at home in China -- they're Fukienese -- they live in close compact quarters, so they're used to it, so something has to trigger for the father to cross the moral line, have to be cross that, and I don't know and I'll be interested to know. Hopefully it's lesson learned and I hope it will never happen. If it's a mental health issue, we have to address that," State Assemblyman Lester Chang said.  

The suspect was taken into custody where an officer was able to translate.

Local politicians say a fundraiser will be held for the victim's family and services will also be offered.

"It's just sad in every angle," Sen. Iwen Chu said. "My office will stay in close contact with police and see how we can address this to help the victim's family, and also the son of the perpetrator."

The motive behind the attack is still unknown, and police say charges are pending.

Police say the children remain in critical condition.

Local officials tell us the woman's husband, who works in Ohio and normally comes home once a month, is now on his way to New York.

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