San Diego Police Department

Mom, Toddler Deaths at Petco Park Last Fall Were Homicide-Suicide: SDPD

Raquel Wilkins, 40, and her 2-year-old son, Denzel Browning-Wilkins, died Sept. 25, in the East Village neighborhood of San Diego

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Law enforcement investigators have released the causes of death for a San Diego mother and her child who died last September outside Petco Park.

The 40-year-old mother's death has been ruled a suicide and her son's a homicide, police said Wednesday, citing a comprehensive investigation and consultation with the San Diego County Medical Examiner.

The deaths of Raquel Wilkins and her 2-year-old son, Denzel Browning-Wilkins, were deemed suspicious at the time. The pair suffered traumatic injuries when they fell from the concourse and landed on the sidewalk at Tony Gwynn Way on Sept. 25. Emergency responders attempted to revive them, but both died before they could be taken to a hospital, San Diego police said in the days after the incident.

NBC 7's Dana Griffin has the latest on the tragic falling deaths at Petco Park over the weekend, and the identities of the vicitm.

According to Dan Gilleon, an attorney hired by the Wilkins’ family after the pair died, San Diego police had been investigating the incident as a murder-suicide since the event occurred.

“The police department understands the interest in this tragic event and the questions that have arisen,” an SDPD representative said at the time. “How and why this happened are questions on the mind of many, especially the investigators looking for answers in this heartbreaking case.”

NBC 7's Dana Griffin heard from a witness who was sitting one table away from a mother and child who fell to their deaths over a railing at Petco Park.

Police officials said in a news release issued Wednesday that their probe “included dozens of interviews, reviewing of available video footage and collecting background information to determine what led to the deaths.”

No other details about the incident were released Wednesday by police, who said that they would “not be making any further comment on the case" and that the family was asking for privacy "during this difficult time.”

Pending Litigation

A week after Wilkins and her son died, their family attorney Gilleon told NBC 7, “I know, you know, from my sources, that the initial investigation — by a relatively inexperienced homicide detective — was that this was a murder-suicide."

Comments made the week after the incident by San Diego mayor Todd Gloria seemed to insinuate the fall was the result of mental health issues.

“We have a mental health crisis that we don’t talk nearly enough about, and COVID has exacerbated that greatly,” Gloria said to Fox 5 San Diego. “I hope that folks who find themself in this position — and there is no shame in admitting that you’re having challenges — to avail themselves to the many services that are out there. You are not alone in this regard. Many people are suffering with depression, anxiety — either because that was the way that they’ve been for a while or because the pandemic has exacerbated it. Whatever it is, seek out help. There is no need to harm a child, to traumatize others in our community. There’s help that’s out there if you need it.”

At the time, Gilleon called the mayor’s comments inappropriate since police had yet to release an official cause of death.

After the statement on the death classifications Wednesday, Gilleon, who said in September that the family planned on filing a wrongful death suit, weighed in on Twitter regarding the initial responses by Gloria and SDPD: “Four months after Raquel Wilkins and her baby fell to their deaths from Petco Park, the city of San Diego — which owns Petco Park — will have its police department issue a press release blaming Raquel. But they won’t release any details, even to the family.

“The city owns Petco Park,” Gilleon added in a second tweet two hours later. “It’s a defendant in the wrongful death case. Four months ago, the city’s mayor went to the press to blame Raquel Wilkins. Today, the city’s police echoed the mayor. But defendants do this. They blame the victim. Especially when she can’t defend herself.”

The San Diego Padres released the following statement via a spokesman: “In light of today’s statement from the San Diego Police Department, we want to reiterate our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of those involved in this tragedy.”

If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting "Home" to 741741.

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