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Winston-Salem mom says man, appearing to be on drugs, could have killed 3-year-old before his own death

WINSTON-SALEM, NC. -- A Winston-Salem woman says a family friend showed up at her house, acting in a manner which could have seriously harmed her 3-year-old son, before dying himself.

Police say the ordeal began shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday, when 911 dispatchers received a call saying that a person known to the caller as 36-year-old Marvin Lenard Wardlow was “acting erratically and attempting to force entry into nearby apartments.” As officers were arriving there, they say they received another call that an apartment on Lincoln Avenue had been broken into. The suspect description matched the one previously provided for Wardlow.

“I heard the wife yelling over there, and I [saw] him jumping on him and I was just like, ‘Oh my God,’” said Michelle McCray, who lives in a separate apartment on Lincoln Avenue and once considered Wardlow a family friend.

McCray tells FOX8 that before he broke into the reporting party’s apartment, he had busted into hers, where she lives with her 3 and 6-year-old sons.

“He came with no shirt on, just yelling, ‘They trying to kill me,’” she recalled. “'They putting roots on me, they trying to kill me.'”

McCray said the Wardlow she encountered that night was not acting like the Wardlow she had known in the past.

“He looked like he was infuriated, but then he looked like he was scared at the same time,” she said. “It’s like in his head, he was seeing what wasn’t really here. Like, he just, he’s seeing people, hearing stuff.”

McCray claims Wardlow damaged several items in her home, before making his way into her sons’ bedroom.

“He was so fast, it was just like, he was getting from one room to the next like he was on skates or something,” she said.

Wardlow then jumped on her 3-year-old son, before pulling him off the bed and putting all of his weight on the boy.

“That’s the only image I can’t get out my head, is him laying on the ground with my son, my son screaming, crying,” she said. “He just keep yelling, ‘Don’t let him kill me, don’t let him kill me.’ It was just my baby crying, I got my 6-year-old on top of him.”

The 6-year-old boy began hitting Wardlow in the back of the head, while McCray says she and her boyfriend attempted to subdue him.

“He was calm, a little bit, but then he started kicking out and then when the police walked in he just started flipping out again,” she said.

Police say when they arrived they placed Wardlow in handcuffs and immediately recognized that he was in distress and displaying symptoms of a potential drug overdose or excited delirium.

“When they get to the sidewalk, I guess all of his body weight ended up taking a fit, because then he collapsed onto the ground,” McCray said.

Police say they called in EMS, but shortly after they arrived, Wardlow became unresponsive and was transported from the scene in an ambulance. During this time, naloxone was administered by EMS personnel. Despite those efforts, they say, Wardlow died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shortly after midnight on Monday.

“That is the worst experience I have ever endured in my life,” McCray said.

Authorities later found a substance which preliminarily tested positive for the presence of cocaine in Wardlow’s clothing.

“If that was coke, I pray everybody just stop doing that if that’s what it does to you,” McCray said.

Police say the substance will be submitted for further confirmatory analysis as part of the investigation.

“If that’s what drugs do, then don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it,” McCray added.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has been notified of the incident and will review the matter and interview the responding officers once an autopsy is completed, which is standard protocol, police said. The Winston-Salem Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division has assumed the investigation into the break-ins. An administrative investigation will be conducted by the department’s professional standards division.

The primary responding officers have been placed on administrative duty while the investigations are completed, which is also standard protocol.