Neighbors in the Bywater are trying to wrap their minds around how a father allegedly killed his own child on Tuesday.
Neighbors say they were watching 18-month-old Amena grow and start to learn more about the world. They say she was just learning her words, would wave to them and in the evening would sit on the steps every evening waiting for her dad to come home from work.
“You'd hear him talk about the little girl. She was his everything,” one neighbor said.
Police say they had a different conversation with father and husband Mark Hambrick on Tuesday morning when they got a call they will never be able to forget.
"He told us he stabbed the child and to put the child out of her misery he suffocated the child until she expired,” NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said.
Police say Hambrick told them over the phone that he would wait for officers outside of his home until they arrived and that his daughter was inside dead.
"That's not normal. That's absolutely not normal. So once again this is tragic,” Harrison said.
Neighbors say on the outside of the red house in the 3100 block of Rampart Street seemed to be a home to a perfect family.
"Every time you saw them together you were like ‘dang that's a loving couple.’ And they had a beautiful daughter,” another neighbor said.
Friends say the baby’s mother just got a prestigious job with the city of Baton Rouge. She was there on Tuesday morning when she learned what happened.
"A mother has lost her baby and has now lost her husband,” Harrison said.
Hambrick worked for the Sewerage and Water Board as a management development analyst for the last year. He has been placed on emergency suspension without pay.
Now neighbors, friends and police are left grappling with the aftermath.
“We're all effected by the loss of an 18-month-old baby,” Harrison said.
The baby’s mother works in the mayor’s office in Baton Rouge and was there when she learned the tragic news. Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome released the following statement:
“I am presently with Monika Gerhart-Hambrick as she works through this unimaginable situation. Monika is a valued member of our City Hall staff. She has our thoughts, prayers and support. This is a horrible tragedy. No parent should ever have to lose a child, especially in such a violent way. We are here for Monika and her family for whatever they need.”