A woman and two young children are dead after being found unconscious on a sidewalk in Boston, police said in a somber news conference Christmas Day.
The announcement from Boston police, which didn't identify the relationship between the three people in the incident or what might have happened, came after Northeastern University police warned the public to stay away from a parking structure owned by the university near the Ruggles MBTA Station due to heavy police activity in the area.
An SUV was seen behind police tape on the roof of the parking structure, while below a little shoe was seen on the ground. A vehicle in the garage was linked to the scene but it's not yet clear how it was involved. Nevertheless, Northeastern has already announced in the wake of the deaths that it will close off the top of the garage indefinitely.
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The three people were taken to a hospital, "where they were pronounced non-viable," Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said.
He didn't speculate on the cause of death when asked if the people had jumped off the garage. He said he believes the children were at most 5 years old and that they may have been related to the woman found with them but that they were still trying to identify the three.
An investigation is underway in the incident, reported at the garage about 1:26 p.m. Asked if it could have been a domestic incident, Gross said Boston police are reviewing radio calls made today.
The officials at the news conference were solemn as they spoke about an evidently affecting crime scene. Trauma response teams were made available to help any witnesses or first responders who were at the scene cope, if they need it. That number is 617-431-0125.
"It's a tragedy," Gross said, in comments echoed by Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins.
"As a mother, it was incredibly hard, this scene in particular, where there were two children who lost their lives today," Rollins said, urging anyone who needs help to call the statewide Samaritans Hotline at 877-870-HOPE.
MBTA Police Chief Kenneth Green said, "This is a tragic situation, particularly when it involves children as well as being on Christmas Day. Our hearts go out to the deceased as well as to the family."
Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted his condolences as well: "This is a horrible tragedy for this family on this Christmas Day. My prayers and deepest sympathies are with them."
Earlier, MBTA Director of Communications Joe Pesaturo had said bus service in the immediate area was temporarily shut down. It was unclear when the service will be restored.
One witness said he was on a bus pulling into Ruggles Station when he saw a child on the ground and rushed over to help with the driver and a few other passengers.
"That was something I never expected to see," Benny Walker said.
The SUV being investigated atop the over eight-story Renaissance Park parking garage had three doors open: the driver's and the two rear passengers. It was towed from the structure hours after the incident.
Rollins said there were two child seats, one front-facing and one rear-facing, in the vehicle that was being investigated.
Calling the incident "tragic," Northeastern University said Wednesday that it is staffing the garage with security 24 hours a day and, "until a permanent solution is implemented," will close access to the garage's top two floors to pedestrians and vehicles.
The move comes after the university added security staff to patrol the Renaissance Park garage and two other multi-level parking facilities on the Boston campus, according to a news release.
Anyone with information about the deaths can contact police at 1-800-494-TIPS.
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