DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — The anguish in the man’s voice on the 911 call was clear.
He was telling the dispatcher on the other end of the line that he had just tried to drown his children in a pond and he was so distraught and disoriented that he couldn’t describe where he was. “Please send an ambulance. My daughters are in the lake, drowning. Both of my young daughters.”
Alan Tysheen Eugene Lassiter sobbed as he struggled to explain where he was so police could come to help. Later in the call, he told a bystander: “I just drowned my two daughters in the lake back there.”
Now, authorities are left looking for answers as to why Lassiter ended up Sunday night at an apartment complex where he didn’t live trying to end his children’s lives. Lassiter, 29, was charged with three counts of attempted murder and jailed Monday on a bond of $2 million, according to the Durham County Jail. His 3- and 5-year-old daughters were rescued from the water by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy and hospitalized. His 7-year-old son escaped and ran for help, police said.
On the 911 call, Lassiter alternates between expletive-laden rage and distraught sobs and blames officials for trying to take away his children as he dealt with a personal problem. “All I was trying to do was get help,” he said. “Instead they turned their back on me. The whole system, and tried to take my kids.”
It is not known if Lassiter has a lawyer. The person who lived at the listed address for Lassiter in Raleigh said she did not know him and phone calls to family members were not returned. Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said at a news conference Monday he did not know whether the family had been the subject of earlier calls for intervention by police or social service workers.
Olivia James, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency doesn’t discuss individual cases to protect people’s privacy. It also is not clear whether the girls were thrown or pushed into the pond before they were rescued by the deputy, who performed CPR until an ambulance arrived, Lopez said.
The pond is about the length of a football field. It is about 6 feet deep at its deepest point. The 3-year-old girl was in critical condition and the 5-year-old girl in stable condition, police said. Their mother was with them at a local hospital Monday, police said.
Emery Dalesio can be reached at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio .