ELMHURST, Queens (WABC) -- Officials are demanding answers after police found a 3-year-old boy lifeless at a shelter on Sunday night.
Shaquan Butler had bruises on his body and now his 26-year-old father, also with the same name, is charged in his murder.
"I heard fighting, my husband told me you're going to have some trouble getting home because there's some commotion," a resident of the shelter said.
The resident lives on the same floor as the family at the hotel-turned-shelter. It is run by Samaritan Daytop Village on Queens Boulevard. She said she knew something was wrong.
"The mother came out screaming saying "'help me,' it's very sad, he looked very young," the eyewitness said.
Police say the mother of the child claimed her son was choking on chicken nuggets and fell, hitting his head on the floor.
But the Medical Examiner's report stated the boy had blunt force trauma.
A spokesperson for the city's Administration for Children's Services said, "Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of all children in New York City. We are investigating this case with NYPD."
Councilman Robert Holden is outraged by the death.
"A 3-year-old beaten to death is disgusting," Holden said. "Samaritan Village should have red-flagged that room...they aren't doing the job, I have another shelter, we have widespread drug use in there.
Holden said the large shelters that cost millions of dollars need more oversight.
"The large shelters don't' work, let's go to smaller shelter, not for profit, faith based organizations," Holden said.
The child's mother is not charged, but police say the boy's father, who is facing murder charges, has at least 28 prior arrests.
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News