LANCASTER (CBSLA) — A homicide investigation was underway Thursday after a 10-year-old boy who was rushed from his Lancaster apartment to a hospital with critical injuries has died, authorities said.

Anthony Avalos survived the night but was pronounced dead at 6:30 a.m. Thursday at a local hospital, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies responded to the boy’s apartment in the 1100 block of East Avenue K at about noon Wednesday on a report that the boy had been injured in a fall and was not breathing.

The boy’s death is considered suspicious. The Los Angeles County coroner will determine the exact cause of death.

Deputies also found another seven children, ages 11 months to 12 years old, who were either living in the apartment or associated with the victim’s family , the sheriff’s department said. Those seven children have been removed from the apartment by Child Protective Services.

The boy’s aunt, Maria Barron, told CBS2 she believes his mother and her boyfriend had been abusing him. She says she reported the couple to the county and his last school three years ago but nothing was done.

“He told us that he would get locked up and he wasn’t allowed to use the bathroom,” Barron said.

Authorities had contact with the family “prior to this incident,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told the Los Angeles Times.

“As a community, we ask why a child had to suffer abuse and how we lose innocent children,” DCFS Director Bobby Cagle said in a statement. “Whether down the street, in a neighboring county, or across the nation. How does this happen?”

On Thursday night about 50 people participated in a vigil at the Lancaster apartment complex where the boy was found with injuries that led to his death. Anthony’s fourth grade teacher and some of her co-workers were at the vigil. They told CBS2 he’s been with them for two years.

“Anytime I needed help, Anthony was always there, he always brought me treats from the cafeteria,” said Anthony’s teacher Harmony Bell.

“He never confided or confessed anything of the nature, and if you brought it up to him, he always defended his mother, he loved her,” said Danielle Thompson, a school health clerk.

The sheriff’s Homicide and Special Victims bureaus are investigating. Anyone with information can call the sheriff’s department at (323) 890-5500.

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