A city correction officer left his 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter home alone in their filthy East Harlem apartment, authorities said Monday.
But the boy called 911 and police got there before the siblings got their hands on their dad’s two guns.
Also inside the E. 119th St. home was a badly malnourished dog locked in a cage, police said.
Neighbors said that when police arrived shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday, they forced open the apartment’s front door. But according to court papers, the suspect, Ronald McDonagh, 48, ran up to officers when they arrived.
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He told police he had left the kids alone to go buy milk and juice, according to the papers, then he retreated to his apartment and closed the door.
But he came back out two minutes later with the siblings, who appeared to be unharmed and in decent health considering their surroundings.
Police then arrested him and found two handguns, a Glock and a Beretta, on a shelf in an unlocked closet.
“The little girl was screaming, ‘I want my daddy!” said a neighbor, Carmen Febus, 34. “Let him go! Let him go!”
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Febus called McDonagh “a good dad” who never leaves his kids alone and takes good care of them.
But the apartment was “unsanitary and uninhabitable,” court papers said, with “garbage and clothing spread throughout the apartment.”
The “small thin dog” was lying in a puddle of urine, with an empty bowl in the case. The dog was also “emaciated and frail, and its coat was matted,” the papers said.
That, too, surprised Febus, who said she often saw the family walking the dog, a Beagle puppy.
McDonagh, she said, used to be the building super, but was recently dismissed, though it wasn’t clear why.
Another neighbor, Michael Hernandez, 22, called the suspect “an intense guy” who he remembers yelling and cursing whenever someone was smoking on the building’s front stoop.
“After this, I don’t want him living here,” he said.
McDonagh was arraigned Sunday on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and injuring an animal and was released without bail.
He could not be reached for comment Monday.
It wasn’t clear if his kids were in the custody of Administration for Children’s Services, which neighbors said took them from the scene, or if they were placed with their mom, who lives elsewhere. ACS said it can’t talk about specific cases.
The suspect also has a daughter, described by a neighbor as at least 18 and also living elsewhere.
McDonagh joined the Correction Department in 2000, and was a sergeant in the Army National Guard from January 2003 to January 2011.
He served in Iraq, according to papers connected to a disciplinary matter in which he was suspended three days without pay in 2014 because he had previously used a day earmarked for military training to instead attend his older daughter’s graduation.
He is assigned to Correction’s Transportation Division, moving prisoners between jail and court.