Aspiring nurse named as mother shot dead while pushing her baby in stroller on Upper East Side

·6 min read

An aspiring nurse and young mother-of-two has been identified as the woman who was shot dead at point-blank range while pushing her baby in a stroller through the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Azsia Johnson, 20, died on Wednesday night after she reportedly planned to meet up with the father of her three-month-old infant.

Ms Johnson’s mother Lisa Desort said her daughter had been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of her baby’s father and that the family had filed multiple reports to the police – but that authorities had failed to protect her.

Ms Desort told Fox News that she was “the best mother” to her two children – aged three months and two years old – and had dreams of being a pediatric nurse,

“She had been working since she was 16, and she took care of people. She was the best mother,” she said. “My daughter did not deserve this.”

Ms Desort and police sources said that the father of the three-month-old baby had been identified as a person of interest and are seeking to question him about Ms Johnson’s murder.

A law enforcement official told New York Daily News that the victim had sent text messages to her family saying that she was planning to meet up with the baby’s father on Wednesday night to talk some things out.

The man – who has not been publicly named – had allegedly assaulted the victim while she was pregnant and she was unsure if she wanted him in their child’s life, the official said.

Lisa Desort told Fox News that the baby’s father had made multiple threats to both her daughter and other family members but that police failed to take their complaints seriously.

She said that the suspect had “threatened me with death, my daughter with death, and my other daughter with death” and they had reported the incidents to the NYPD “numerous times”.

The grieving mother said that “no one protected” her daughter.

“The city was supposed to be protecting her. This is a domestic violence case from January. We called the precinct,” she said.

“All that anyone needs to know in this city is we called numerous times for her protection.

Azsia Johnson was identified as the victim of Wednesday’s shooting (Family/PIX11)
Azsia Johnson was identified as the victim of Wednesday’s shooting (Family/PIX11)

“No one protected my daughter, and now she’s dead.”

Ms Desort told NBC New York that her daughter called her on 1 January – when she was six months’ pregnant – and said she was being abused by the baby’s father.

“She was scared to call the police so she gave me the address. I called police,” she said.

She said that the police responded and her daughter moved in with her.

But, Ms Johnson kept being threatened and harassed by her former partner.

Ms Desort said they reported the threats to a detective but were told that no crime had been committed.

The 20-year-old ended up moving into a domestic violence shelter because they feared that the baby’s father knew where her mother’s house was and would find her.

Ms Desort said she had feared that the baby’s father would hurt or even kill her daughter.

“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,” she said. “I kept telling her, ‘He’s no good.’”

The grieving mother urged her daughter’s killer to “turn yourself in” as her two young children have now been left without their mother.

The two-year-old, who she shares with another man, was not with her at the time of the shooting.

An NYPD spokesperson refused to confirm the identity of the person of interest to The Independent but said that no one was in police custody as of Thursday afternoon.

Investigators are probing domestic violence as a possible motive to the attack, with the mother and her children all named in domestic incident reports.

The reports also include the names of former boyfriends, reported CNN, but it is not clear if the person of interest is among them.

A law enforcement official said that the victim had filed at least two separate domestic violence complaints in the last two years.

The 20-year-old mother had been temporarily living at a woman’s shelter in East Harlem at the time of her death and was walking her three-month-old child by 95th Street and Lexington Avenue when the horrifying attack unfolded.

At around 8.23pm on Wednesday night, a hooded gunman approached the victim from behind and shot her at point-blank range in the head.

She was rushed to hospital where she was pronounced dead. The baby was unharmed in the attack.

Police said the suspect – a man dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants – fled the scene on foot along 95th Street.

The shooting took place just steps from the Samuel Seabury Playground where young children were enjoying a summer evening with friends.

Authorities on the Upper East Side in New York block off the scene where the young mother was shot and killed while pushing a stroller (ABC 7 New York/Video screengrab)
Authorities on the Upper East Side in New York block off the scene where the young mother was shot and killed while pushing a stroller (ABC 7 New York/Video screengrab)

One 10-year-old girl who was there with her brother and aunt told The New York Post that she initially mistook the noise of the gunshot for a firework.

“But then I realized there was a gunshot. And it really frightened me because I was right there at the park playing and I never would have thought this would have happened,” said Gabriella.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams blamed the gun violence “epidemic” and the “over-proliferation of guns” in a press conference on Wednesday night.

“More guns in our city means more lives lost,” he said. “It means more babies crying, as those who love them lie dead.”

He added: “These are real stories, real lives. When a woman is pushing a baby carriage down the block and is shot in point blank range, it shows just how this national problem is impacting families.

“It doesn’t matter if you are on the Upper East Side or East New York, Brooklyn.”

The mayor, a former NYPD officer, said that the violent slaying came just hours after New York officials had spent the day working to tackle gun violence in the city at a time when shootings have soared both in New York and across the wider US.

On Wednesday, Mr Adams announced the city was filing lawsuits against ghost gun retailers and met with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about tackling gun trafficking.

Meanwhile, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that state lawmakers were working on a gun control bill to ban people from carrying firearms in many places including businesses, unless the individual business specifically says guns are welcome.

The steps come amid a rise in mass shootings across America in recent months and calls for tighter gun control to prevent more communities being torn apart by gun violence.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed a gun safety bill into law after a bipartisan group of lawmakers worked to introduce and pass the first gun major federal regulations in decades.

However, as gun control measures passed through Congress, the conservative-heavy Supreme Court then loosened gun control in a ruling on Thursday.

The justices ruled that a New York law that required people who seek to carry a concealed weapon to get a permit was unconstitutional, paving the way for people to legally carry guns on the streets of America without providing a specific reason for doing so.