A 2-year-old boy died late Friday at an apartment in northeast Spokane while in the care of his baby sitter, police said.
Police arrested Gavin Ritsler, 26, of 1320 N. Madelia, who they say was watching Kory Holbrook when he died.
Ritsler is being held on $125,000 bond in the Spokane County Jail on charges of first-degree manslaughter.
An upstairs neighbor heard a noise coming from Ritsler’s apartment about 11:40 p.m. Police said the neighbor told them he went downstairs to investigate and found Ritsler with the unconscious child.
The neighbor’s wife called 911.
Medics tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate Kory at the apartment. He was taken to Deaconess Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Police said the boy’s mother, Rea Holbrook, left her son with Ritsler while she was out of town.
The dark-haired, dark-eyed boy only recently celebrated his second birthday. A mostly empty box of birthday candles still sits on the dashboard of his mother’s burgundy Subaru.
Adana Wilson, who met Ritsler through her boyfriend about six months ago, said it is not possible he could have killed the boy.
“(Ritsler’s) one of the sweetest people in the world,” Wilson said. “They’re going to find out he’s innocent.”
Wilson said Ritsler and Holbrook have shared the apartment on North Madelia for as long as she has known them. And although Ritsler is not the boy’s father, he has taken care of him like a father since the boy was born, Wilson said.
“He’s great with him,” Wilson said, and called Kory Holbrook “a smaller version of Gavin.”
Wilson described Ritsler as a short, well-built man who enjoys body building. A trophy and a medal he won for body building is displayed in the living room of the apartment.
She said the noise the neighbors heard must have been Ritsler hitting the floor.
But Holly and Phillip Doramus, who live diagonally across the street from the apartment, tell a different story of Ritsler. The couple said they have heard Ritsler yelling and screaming at Holsbrook during several different times.
“He’s just not a nice person,” Holly Doramus said. “He’s very, very violent.”
Though she did not know him by name, Doramus said she has seen the same man police arrested Friday night hit a woman in the parking lot on two occasions.
“Now maybe that he’s in jail, it’ll quiet down around here,” Doramus said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo