Who was Azsia Johnson? NYC woman 'executed' while walking 3-month-old baby was domestic abuse victim
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY: A young woman was killed while walking with her 3-month-old baby in a stroller on Wednesday, June 29 night, on an Upper East Side street, police and law enforcement sources said. Authorities believe the victim and the shooter knew each other and called it a domestic incident. The gunman approached the woman as she pushed the stroller and shot her once in the head around 8:20 pm near the intersection of East 95th Street and Lexington Avenue, police said.
The NYPD officials "strongly believe it was not a random shooting" and "the victim was targeted," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said on Thursday, June 30 morning. The officials confirmed details about the woman and also confirmed that she was a victim of domestic violence and was a mother of two children. The second child was not with her during the shooting. The 20-year-old was identified as Azsia Johnson. Liza Desort, the mother of Johnson, described her daughter as a "young queen". Two senior NYPD officials confirmed a domestic violence report involving Johnson was filed in January 2021. "The city failed my daughter because, on January 1, my daughter called me and said she was being abused while she was six months pregnant," Desort said. "She was scared to call the police so she gave me the address. I called the police," NBC New York reported.
Who was Azsia Johnson?
Azsia Johnson, 20, was a mother of two children. As per Johnson's mother Liza Desort, police did respond to Johnson's domestic violence report and made sure Johnson was safe. Johnson then went to live with Desort. The man who killed Johnson is reportedly not the father of the infant she was strolling when she died. She was stuck in domestic violence and ended up at a domestic violence shelter. "She worked to the end of her pregnancy. She was on maternity leave with this baby. He kept harassing her, and threatening my life and my younger daughter's life," Desort said, adding that she genuinely was in fear for Johnson's safety.
"I tried to protect my daughter in every way. She had to leave my house, she couldn't live there because he knew where I lived," Desort said. "I kept telling her, 'He's no good.' My daughter graduated high school with merits, with the inspiration of becoming a pediatric nurse," Desort added, reflecting on Johnson's upbringing in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
"She had a child early and she was the most wonderful mother that you can imagine. She was hardworking. She worked every day. She's got more credit than a 30-40-year-old person has. She aspired to have houses and give her children the best of everything," Desort said, adding that Johnson wouldn't even accept used clothes. "They were new babies. They deserved new clothes," Desort recalled of her daughter's mindset. "My daughter was amazing."
And to the man she believes killed her, Desort said, "I treated you like a son. I welcomed you into my home. I spoke to you and calmed you down when you were upset. I fed you. Your baby girl does not, and no longer, will have a father or mother." "Turn yourself in," Desort added. "This is what we have been telling you -- turn yourself in. Go to counseling. You didn't have to hurt my daughter. We could have been a family," she added.
Johnson's relative Valerie Duncaan released a statement on Facebook. She wrote, "Today my sister-in-law lost her sister and my nephews lost their aunt.... but the worst part is her two children lost their mom.... she had many things going for herself before this tragedy took place but this is what family for your name will live on and your kids will be in great hands.... RIP Beautiful remember her name #AzsiaJohnson #domesticviolenceawareness."
The NYPD has not released the name of any potential suspects. They have said they are looking to question an infant's father and a suspect is under investigation. No arrests have been made. Multiple law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the case said investigators recovered surveillance video and other footage from in and around the crime scene. The NYPD has recovered a video that shows the gunman pacing in front of a residence right before the shooting, which they say isn't thought to be random.
Whoever shot the woman, according to the NYPD, fired a single shot at her head before running off. The shooter was last seen running eastbound on East 95th Street, the NYPD said. One shell casing was recovered at the scene. Mayor Eric Adams, who had spent Wednesday, June 29 discussing gun violence, condemned the incident. "This entire day we have been addressing the problem of overproliferation of guns on our street, how readily accessible they are, and how there is just no fear in using these guns on innocent New Yorkers," Adams said. "This is the result of that."
"These are real lives, when a mother is pushing a baby carriage down the block and is shot at point-blank range it shows just how this national problem is impacting families," the Democratic mayor added as he called for gun reform. Adams also demanded, as he has frequently in recent weeks, more government action to buckle a trend he said applies whether "you are on the Upper East Side or East New York, Brooklyn."
"We’re going to continue to do our job," he continued. "We’re going to find this person who is guilty of this horrific crime. We’re going to find him and bring him to justice. We need to make sure this innocent person receives the justice we’re asking for."