Police: Limerick dad violently shook 2-month-old baby

STEVE EDWARD THOMPSON

LIMERICK — The father of a 2-month-old baby has been charged with shaking the child nearly to the point of death, according to court documents filed by the Limerick police.

Steve Edward Thompson, 43, was charged Tuesday with felony aggravated assault and three misdemeanors: simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of a child by a parent or guardian.

An affidavit of probable cause related to the case said the Limerick police and Trappe Fire Company Ambulance crews were dispatched to Troon Court in Limerick around 7:25 p.m. May 29 for the report of a baby not breathing.

“On arrival, officers found the baby in the care of his father,” the affidavit said.

Originally taken to Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, the baby was transported to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

The next day, a caseworker and Limerick detective went to the hospital and spoke with those on the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect team there.

They said the child had suffered “at least one subdural bleed to the brain,” according to the affidavit.

In an interview with the caseworker and police, Thompson reportedly confirmed that he was alone with the child. He said he was “carrying (the victim) in one arm. (The victim) got fidgety and jerked his head (and) fell from his arms onto a very soft, plush couch. (The victim) went limp and stopped breathing,” the affidavit said.

An ophthalmologist reportedly told police that the baby suffered “bilateral intra-retinal hemorrhages that were too numerous to count.”

The ophthalmologist told police that was a new injury and the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect team “listed the injury as ‘consistent with abusive head trauma (shaken baby syndrome)’ from (the victim) being shaken violently to the point of near death,” according to the affidavit.

Thompson also allegedly told a nurse during the baby’s care that he “shook the baby a bit.”

After interviewing Thompson again, police said he told them he shook the baby but “I don’t remember how many times or how hard,” claiming he did it to “get a response to wake him up” after the baby went limp after the initial drop he told police about.

Medical personnel told police that going limp was not consistent with an injury sustained from the fall Thompson described.

A doctor reportedly found ligament injuries in the baby’s neck as well as “an old brain bleed injury,” which he indicated were “highly concerning for repeated abuse.” That doctor classified the injuries as being “consistent” with the victim being “violently shaken,” according to police.

In a new interview June 3 with a Limerick detective and a caseworker, Thompson allegedly admitted, “I think I shook (the victim) harder than I should have,” then eventually told his mother, who was apparently present and said, “It is all my fault, Mom. I did this. I shook the baby vigorously.”

Interviewed once more, now just with police, Thompson allegedly described “vigorously shaking” the baby because “he was upset with himself for dropping” him.

“He admitted to ‘taking out his frustrations’ on (the victim) because he was mad at himself,” the affidavit said, and that the baby went limp after being shaken.

Thompson also allegedly told police that he had been depressed since the birth of the child and that “he and his wife did everything together prior to (the victim) being born.”

Two doctors told police that the injuries sustained by the baby were from “abuse only,” according to police.

Thompson was arraigned Thursday morning and his bail was set at $100,000, unsecured. It’s unclear if he was remanded to prison.

Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Sophia Polites is assigned to the case, police said.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 16.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.