MANHATTAN – In the light of day, the murder scene outside an Upper East Side playground was even more horrific than the details learned during a police news conference the night before. A large blood stain remains on the sidewalk where a young mother named Azsia Johnson was executed by a gunman. Now, police confirm to Upper East Site they have identified a person of interest in the grisly slaying.
“We strongly believe it was not a random shooting, that the victim was targeted,” Mayor Adams said Thursday, “We are going to catch this person that’s responsible.”
Investigators say they now have a person of interest in connection with the murder of 20-year-old Azsia Johnson, who was pushing her three-month-old baby girl’s stroller across the East 95th Street, between Lexington and Third Avenues, when she was shot once in the head from behind— point blank— just before 8:25 pm.
“I heard the shot but figured it was something else, since you always hear loud noises over here,” said Renee, a neighbor who lives across the street from the murder scene.
When the 30 year old and her fiancé went outside “there were still kids and their parents playing at the park,” Renee told Upper East Site, “I don’t think people realized.”
A police source told Upper East Site on Wednesday night that Johnson’s killing could be related to a domestic situation. City Council Member Julie Menin confirmed the NYPD was investigating it as such, on Thursday.
“He put her light out, that’s what he did. He put her light out,” said Lisa DeSort, describing her daughter’s killer to the New York Times.
“This city failed my daughter,” she added, explaining how 20-year-old Azsia was a victim of domestic violence.
“I also saw when they put the baby stroller in the ambulance… and have been thinking about that poor baby since,” said Renee, who lives on that block of East 95th Street.
“It was so terrible to see because you couldn’t tell if the baby was injured or not,” Renee said.
Thankfully, investigators say the Johnson’s three-month-old baby girl was not hurt, but she was taken to Metropolitan Hospital for evaluation.
“These are real stories, real lives, when a mother’s pushing a baby carriage down the block… is shot at point blank range,” Mayor Eric Adams told reporters gathered at the scene for a news conference late Wednesday night.
“This shows just how this national problem [of gun violence] is impacting families. It doesn’t matter if you are on the Upper East Side or East New York,” the former police captain added.
On East 95th Street, neighbors were shaken up by the heinous act— the taking of that young woman’s life— right on their block.
Council Member Julie Menin’s Office is organizing a vigil for the slain mother Thursday night at 8:30 pm, outside the Samuel Seabury Playground on East 95th Street near Lexington Avenue.
“Absolutely horrendous,” Renee told Upper East Site, “[I] really hope they catch this person.”
This is the third murder to rock East 95th Street in just over fourteen months.
A 21-year-old Brooklyn man was shot and killed inside a car near the corner of Park Avenue during what was believed to a be a drug deal gone wrong in April 2021.
Then, a few months later on the morning of August 23, 2021, a gunman walked into an auto repair shop on East 95th Street, between First and Second Avenues and shot two employees— killing one and wounding another.
Suspects have been arrested in both of those murders.
The gunman in Wednesday’s killing has only been described by investigators as a man dressed in a black hoodie and black sweatpants. No arrests have been made.
If you have any information that could help detectives, you’re asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477.