SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Harrell Fischer was working on his boat late Monday night when he heard gunshots and saw a car plunge into the Sacramento River not far from where his boat was docked at the Cliff's Marina off of River Road.
Fischer said he and a friend took a boat out to try to help whoever was inside.
"When we opened that door and I saw that little face looking at me my heart melt, I said no. Then I saw little hands poking out the side and I was devastated and that's when instinct went over and I just went into survival grabbing kids," he explained.
Fischer and his friend helped rescue four kids ranging from two to six years old.
"I grabbed my coat and told them to get in a little circle get in as tight as they could cause they were cold and I wanted their body heat to keep them warm too. I put my coat around them, they were all devastated, they were in shock," Fischer said.
Fischer said a man who investigators later identified as some of the kids' father got out of the car and refused to help get the kids to safety. When he pulled the kids to safety the 6-year-old boy said he saw his mom get shot.
"The kid said 'he killed my mom,'" Fischer said.
According to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, the victim, who has not been identified, is a 23-year-old woman. Sergeant Tess Deterding said that 27-year-old Mandiko Kwadzo was in the passenger seat when he shot the mother of his children in the head. Deterding said Kwadzo is the father of three of the four children involved.
"You have the loss of a mother, which is a trauma they experienced first hand. And also now of course having their father be responsible for in jail for this homicide," Deterding said.
The mom was pronounced dead at the scene.
"My friend jumped in to help her and I was shining the light, I couldn't even, she didn't have a pulse," explained Fischer.
Fischer is still processing but is thankful that the kids are all safe.
"It's a blessing in disguise almost. I'm glad I was there, but I hate that I was there. That I had to see that, but I'm glad I got to protect those kids a little bit and get them out of harm's way," he said.
Court records show Kwadzo has a prior criminal history. Including being charged with the illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. He was booked in the Sacramento County Jail on a felony murder charge. He has an outstanding warrant in Napa County.
He is scheduled to be arraigned in court on Thursday afternoon.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story, which has since been corrected, incorrectly stated the suspect was the victim's husband.]
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