The father of the three-month-old baby being pushed in a stroller when his mother was killed in an execution-style shooting in Manhattan’s Upper East Side has been identified as a person of interest in the murder, according to police sources and family members .
A law enforcement official told New YorkDaily News that 20-year-old Azsia Johnson 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 now wanted him in their child’s life, the official said.
The victim – whose identity was confirmed by her mother – was pushing her three-month-old child in a stroller through the Upper East Side just before 8.30pm when she was approached by a hooded figure and shot at point-blank range in the head .
She was rushed to hospital where she was pronounced dead. The baby was unarmed in the attack.
Police are now seeking to question the baby’s father as the person of interest in the young mother’s killing, according to the police source and the victim’s heartbroken mother.
Lisa Resort awning foxnews 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 since January. We called the precinct,” she said.
“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.”
Her daughter – who police have not publicly named – was the mother to both the three-month-old and a two-year-old child.
That child, who she shares with another man, was not with her at the time of the shooting.
Ms Desort said that her daughter was “the best mother” 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.”
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 around 1pm ET Thursday.
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 CNNbut it is not clear if the person of interest is among them.
The 20-year-old mother was 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.
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.
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 a 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.