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Azsia Johnson, 20, was fatally shot in the head while pushing her baby in a stroller on the Upper East Side on Wednesday
The father of a three-month-old baby has been arrested by police in New York, sources told The New York Post, after the child’s mother was shot point-blank while pushing their daughter in a stroller on the Upper East Side.
Azsia Johnson, a 20-year-old mother of two, was shot in the head at 8:30pm on Wednesday.
On Thursday night, at a vigil, Johnson’s mother said she had repeatedly called the police to report domestic violence, and her daughter moved into a shelter for victims of domestic abuse in East Harlem, near where she was killed. She pointed the finger at her daughter’s ex.
The infant’s 24-year-old father had been identified as a person of interest on Friday, and was taken in for questioning at the 19th precinct.
He has not been named.
Johnson’s three-year-old child, whose father is another man, was not with her at the time.
Investigators recovered surveillance camera video and other footage from in and around the crime scene – but NYPD officials told CBS News that the cameras facing the spot ‘were not immediately accessible’.
The sources told CBS they had already recovered video showing the gunman pacing in front of a residence right before the shooting.
A single shot was fired at her head before the gunman ran off, eastbound along East 95th Street.
One shell casing was recovered at the scene.
New York City’s 19th police precinct, where the shooting occurred, is generally among the safest in the city.
Last year, the precinct recorded just two murders, and until Wednesday had not seen a murder in 2022.
A GoFundMe was created by Johnson’s cousin Sharon Bell, who explains that the family is in shock over the 20-year-old’s death, adding that she is a mother to a 3-year-old and 3-month-old
The Manhattan neighborhood is the most affluent in New York, with average house prices at an eye-watering $1.5million and private school fees exceeding $58,000 per year
The precinct is one of the most densely populated residential areas in Manhattan, and includes the mayor’s residence, Gracie Mansion.
It also encompasses a stretch of Madison Avenue with some of the city’s most upscale shopping options.
However, NYPD data shows that crime is on the rise in the 19th Precinct, as it is across the city.
The arrest of the child’s father came hours after distraught family and friends of Johnson mourned her loss at a vigil held on Thursday night, where Johnson’s mother accused authorities of ignoring her repeated complaints of domestic violence.
The vigil was held at the playground near where Johnson was shot in the head.
Johnson’s mother Lisa Desort, who has said she believes an abusive ex-boyfriend is the killer, was visibly emotional as she said that her daughter’s death could have been prevented.
‘We called every day to the domestic violence [unit]. You know what they told me, it’s not harassment if he makes a threat,’ the weeping mother said.
‘Now, my daughter is dead. She’s dead! A 20-year-old female with a credit score of 800.’
Desort told CBS that her message to the baby’s father was: ‘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.’
At the vigil, Desort was seen in quiet conversation with Mayor Eric Adams, who later stood beside her and offered condolences in brief remarks to the crowd.
Johnson was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn – the same tough neighborhood where Adams was born – and lived in Jamaica, Queens.
The vigil concluded with a balloon release, as those gathered were heard sobbing as they said, ‘we love you, Azsia.’
Azsia Johnson’s mother Lisa Desort (left), who has said she believes an abusive ex-boyfriend is the killer, was visibly emotional at a vigil on Thursday as she said that her daughter’s death could have been prevented
Mayor Eric Adams speaks to Lisa Desort, mother of Azsia Johnson, 20, who was murdered on Wednesday as she walked with her infant child on the Upper East Side
The victims mother Lisa Desort is consoled at a vigil where the community gathered a day after the murder
A candlelight vigil for Azsia Johnson, 20, was held on Thursday night
Mayor Eric Adams speaks to the press during the candlelight vigil
Earlier, Desort alleged her daughter was assaulted by her 22-year-old ex-boyfriend about six months ago, despite being six months pregnant with his child.
She accused the man – who has not been named – of ‘stalking’ and ‘harassing’ her girl after the incident and said they had pleaded with cops to intervene.
But Desort claimed he was never arrested and slammed officers for ‘failing to protect her’ daughter.
Johnson was the victim of the horrific attack that saw a hooded man in black clothing shoot her in the back of the head from point-blank range at 8.23pm on Wednesday.
She had reportedly texted her family to tell them she was planning to meet her ex-boyfriend before she was murdered on the sidewalk. The little girl was unharmed.
Desort told The New York Post through tears on Thursday afternoon: ‘We called the precinct numerous times to tell the [domestic violence] unit that he was stalking and harassing her.
‘Even [though] they knew what apartment he lived in, they failed to apprehend and arrest him,’ the mom continued. The city failed to protect my daughter.’
She added to Fox News: ‘All that anyone needs to know in this city is we called numerous times for her protection. No one protected my daughter, and now she’s dead.’
Lisa Desort, (center) mother of murder victim Azsia Johnson, arrives at the candlelight vigil on Thursday
Lisa Desort speaks with Mayor Adams at an emotional vigil mourning her daughter, who was murdered on Wednesday
‘We called every day to the domestic violence [unit]. You know what they told me, it’s not harassment if he makes a threat,’ the weeping mother said. ‘Now, my daughter is dead. She’s dead!’
Johnson’s mother Lisa Desort, who has said she believes an abusive ex-boyfriend is the killer, was visibly emotional as she said that her daughter’s death could have been prevented
The vigil concluded with a balloon release, as those gathered were heard sobbing as they said, ‘we love you, Azsia’
Desort told PIX11 that her daughter had taken her baby daughter to the park when the shooting happened.
She had been using a tracking app to keep tabs on Johnson and became concerned when it showed she was in the hospital.
Desort said she tried to call, but there was no answer.
Police then showed up at her door with the news.
‘I fell to the ground,’ she said.
Sources told the New York Daily News the young mother had texted relatives saying she was planning to meet up with her child’s father the night she was killed, so they could talk things out.
She had reportedly been assaulted by him while pregnant and wasn’t sure if she wanted him in her life.
‘It appears she was targeted, not a stray bullet,’ a police source said of the shooting.
‘Close contact wound to the head. She had powder burns on her head, to show you how close he was.’
It’s not clear if recent alleged assaults were reported to the police, but the victim’s mother claims they called for help ‘numerous’ times.
‘He threatened me with death, my daughter with death, and my other daughter with death,’ Desort said.
‘We called the precinct numerous times.’
Desort said her daughter had everything going for her.
‘She had been working since she was 16, and she took care of people. She was the best mother,’ she said through tears. ‘My daughter did not deserve this.’
Ebony Baulin speaks about Azsia Johnson, calling her a ‘good person’ and said their children played with each other
Julio Cruz, 62, father of two, found his SUV riddled with bullets on the UES a day after the fatal shooting of a young mother
Neighbor and friend Ebony Baulin told DailyMail.com: ‘That’s my neighbor’s daughter. She was a good person. She was happy. She had a boyfriend.
‘She was just a good girl. Whenever there was a confrontation [between me and her mother], she would be the one to say, ‘don’t fight.’
‘She took care of her kids. She was quiet. She went to work and took care of her kids. I’ve seen [the ex-boyfriend] a couple of times.’
Lauren Brandel, 42, a mother who has lived on the Upper East Side for over 20 years, became emotional when she told DailyMail.com that she takes walks with her young daughter every evening in the neighborhood, in the area where Johnson was shot and killed.
‘We come here on a daily basis, literally, every single day with her, this is our walk,’ she said.
‘We play at that playground.’
But she said she can’t change her daily routine or avoid the area of a place she’s lived in for two decades.
‘It can happen anywhere,’ she said.
The Manhattan neighborhood where Johnson was killed is among the most affluent in New York, with average house prices at $1.5million and private school fees exceeding $58,000 per year.
Horrified children at the nearby playground witnessed the shooting, and one girl described hearing a loud ‘boom’ that she quickly realized was a gunshot.
Mayor Eric Adams blamed the shooting on the ‘over-proliferation of guns’ and said that criminals have ‘no fear in using these guns on innocent New Yorkers.’
The shooting comes four days after President Joe Biden signed into law a legislation that marks some of the biggest changes to federal gun law in decades.
The execution-style killing occurred across the street from the Samuel Seabury Playground (above), which was filled with children who witnessed the horrific shooting
A person of interest has been identified and the NYPD is probing a domestic violence link in the execution-style shooting of Johnson, who was pushing her three-month-old baby in stroller in Upper East Side
‘Lives will be saved,’ Biden said during the signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
‘From Columbine to Sandy Hook to Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, El Paso, Atlanta, Buffalo, Uvalde, and for the shootings that happen every day in the streets that are mass shootings, we don’t even hear about the number of people killed every day in the streets. Their message to us was to just something,’ the president said.
‘Today we did,’ he noted.
The new law comes in the wake of a spat of mass shootings including one at a grocery store in Buffalo where 10 black people were killed and one at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 17 children and two teachers died.
Biden conceded the legislation doesn’t have everything he wanted but ‘it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives.’
The president praised the bipartisan work on the issue.
‘It’s time when this seems impossible get anything done in Washington. We are doing something consequential,’ he said.
The day of the shooting, New York City and state officials announced lawsuits against 10 sellers of gun parts that the officials said can be assembled into untraceable ghost guns and sold without background checks.
State Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the weapons sold by online ghost gun retailers have been found at a growing share of New York’s crime scenes.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell (center) and NYC Mayor Eric Adams (right) brief the press on the shooting
‘These are dangerous weapons,’ Adams, a former police officer, said at a Manhattan news conference with James and other officials.
‘We should not think these are just kits used for hobbyists. They are being used by murderers. All of them are illegal.’
So far this year, major crimes are up 44 percent in the precinct from the same period one year ago, with robbery up 60 percent and felony assault increasing by 23 percent.
The precinct has recorded 1,162 major crimes so far in 2022, compared to 805 incidents in the same period last year.
Citywide, major crimes in New York are up 38 percent this year compared to last year, with robbery up 39 percent, burglary rising 34 percent, and felony assault jumping 19 percent.
However, murders are down 13 percent from last year, and shooting victims have dropped 9 percent, gains that Adams and police officials attribute to a push to get illegal guns off the streets.
Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to contact NYPD detectives at 1-800-577-TIPS.