The Facebook page chronicling the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez — Gabriel’s Justice — has now received nearly 27,000 “likes” from viewers, thousands of whom have left comments about the Palmdale child’s death last week.
Fernandez's skull was cracked, three ribs were broken and his skin was bruised and burned when emergency workers reached him. He had BB pellets embedded in his lung and groin. Two teeth were knocked out of his mouth.
His mother and her boyfriend have been charged with murder and torture. But records reported by The Times on Friday show Gabriel's mother told paramedics that the boy's injuries were a result of self-mutilation.
Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services had left Gabriel in the home despite six investigations into abuse allegations involving the mother over the last decade.
Social workers appeared to miss numerous warning signs at the home, according to the county documents.
The child had previously written a note saying he was contemplating suicide. And his teacher told authorities he often appeared bruised and battered. For reasons that are not clear, all but one investigation was determined to be "unfounded."
"The red flags were all over the place. They were ignored. It is just inexplicable to me," said county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
Department of Children and Family Services Director Philip Browning acknowledged in an interview that the system failed Gabriel.
The case illustrates a need for more "critical thinking and common sense" in evaluating cases, he said.
Four social workers have been placed on desk duty pending possible disciplinary action.
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