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Search halted for children in Bay

Mother charged with three counts of murder

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San Francisco (California)
Coast Guard

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- The Coast Guard said Thursday evening that it had suspended the search for two children allegedly tossed by their mother off a San Francisco pier.

Search teams on Wednesday recovered the body of one child, 2-year-old Taronta Greely, about five hours after police got a 911 call. The body was found 2 miles from the pier.

The bodies of his siblings, 6-year-old Treyshun Harris, and Joshoa Greely, 16 months, have yet to be found despite a widespread search of the bay.

The Coast Guard cited the "probability of survival, search duration and the lack of development in the case" for the suspension of its search, which covered 68 square miles.

It's unlikely that anyone could survive in the 55-degree water for more than about 2-1/2 hours, said Capt. David Swatland of the Coast Guard. The waters also are known for strong tides.

Scenic Pier 7, which juts some 700 feet into the bay and sits adjacent to the historic Ferry Building, typically would be crowded with commuters and tourists at the time of the incident. (Map)

Mayor Gavin Newsom said the alleged actions make "you, frankly, sick to your stomach." He noted the city has resources for people who feel they can't care for their children, such as drop-off stations known as "safe havens."

Rescuers have been scouring the area since the call from a man who said he saw a woman put children in the water, San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong told reporters Thursday. (Watch the latest on the search efforts -- 3:11)

Officers responded quickly to the 911 call, which came in at 5:27 p.m. Wednesday (8:27 p.m. ET), and detained a woman they found walking on the pier with a stroller, according to Fong.

Fong identified the woman as 23-year-old Lashaun Harris of Oakland, the children's mother.

Harris has been charged with three counts of murder and three counts of assault on a child. She's in jail under the custody of the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.

Fong asked that anyone who may have seen a woman with children and a stroller in the area contact police.

Relatives said Harris had a history of mental health problems, including schizophrenia, and a cousin said "she had quit taking her medication."

"She wasn't in her right mind," the cousin said. "Lashaun wasn't the kind of person to do anything wrong to her kids."

Former neighbor Angelica Williams said police often came to the house on domestic disturbance calls. And, last year, she said Harris began behaving strangely.

"She was very paranoid," Williams said. "She would pile furniture against the door. ... She was afraid people were out to get her."

Family members said Harris had been living at a shelter in Oakland but recently said she was going to San Francisco.

Mary Ann Ramirez, the shelter's social services manager, told the San Francisco Chronicle that Treyshun was "such a sweet child -- he loved school. He started first grade when he came to the Salvation Army; it was a new school."

"He would come home every day, ask his mom to 'please take me to homework club.' He really loved school. He loved his brothers, helped his mom with the kids a lot,'' Ramirez said.

CNN's Rahul Bali, Rusty Dornin and Augie Martin contributed to this report.

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