Suspect accused of choking 2 infants after forcing his way into Odessa hospital nursery

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 10:50 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KCBD) - An 18-year-old was arrested Monday night accused of forcing his way into Odessa Regional Medical Center’s nursery and attempting to choke two infants, according to CBS7.

An Odessa Police Department arrest affidavit states two nurses, a respiratory therapist and a hospital security officer saved the two babies from being choked to death.

Marcus McCowan Jr. is charged with two counts of attempted capital murder, possession of a controlled substance, attempt to take a weapon from an officer, assault of a public service, resisting arrest, criminal trespass and assault. McCowan forced his way into the nursery and began assaulting patients and staff, according to the Odessa Police Department.

McCowan was visiting the hospital while his girlfriend was in labor when nurses told police he started acting strangely. Nurses told police he approached the nurses station in Labor and Delivery and grabbed one of the nurses by the arm. He was told to leave, but according to the affidavit, he was then seen running back and forth in the hallway described as “odd and unreasonable”.

Later, McCowan ran at “full speed” at Registered Nurse Haley Sanchez, Registered Nurse Kassandra Reyes and a mom who was being released from the hospital holding a newborn baby in a carrier, CBS7 reported. Witnesses say he was screaming and yelling and shoved Sanchez while trying to get into the nursery.

Nurses told police McCowan then attempted to grab the newborn out of the carrier but was unable and began strangling the baby with both hands. Both Sanchez and Reyes were able to loosen McCowan’s grip near the lactation room, according to the report.

A respiratory therapist at the hospital told police she saw McCowan reach into a newborn’s bed and began to strangle the baby after he was chased by staff before going into the nursery. The report says he picked up the baby from the neck, shook her and told her to “die”. The baby was turning purple when Security Officer Lori Tavarez arrived and together they were able to get the baby away from McCowan, according to police.

Officers arrived and tried to detain McCowan who resisted. During his arrested, police found a THC vape pen on McCowan. While officers continued their search, police say McCowan reportedly tried to grab a corporal’s gun from his belt.

McCowan is held on a combined bond of more than $200,000.

Odessa Regional Medical Center issued a statement following the incident:

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to those who responded to the incident last evening, especially our nurses, therapists, and security team who worked diligently to protect innocent babies and others. The staff and physicians, along with the response team from the Odessa Police Department, are incredible heroes and we are all so grateful to each of them. Our attention is now focused on caring for and supporting those who were impacted by this including our patients, their families, and our staff.”