Upper East Side shooting: Stroller pushing mother gunned down

The NYPD is on the hunt for the gunman who shot a 20-year-old mother in the head as she pushed her 3-month-old daughter in a stroller along a street in Manhattan.

The shooting happened on East 95th Street between 3rd and Lexington on the Upper East Side around 8:20 p.m. Wednesday, New York City Police said.

A man came up to the woman from behind and shot her once in the head from a very close range, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a press conference held near the crime scene on Wednesday night. The gunman then took off eastbound on 95th Street.

"Upon arrival, officers discovered a 20-year-old female who was unconscious with a gunshot wound to her head," Sewell said. "EMS responded to the scene, and transported the victim to Metropolitan Hospital, where she was pronounced deceased at 9:20 p.m." 

Police identified the victim as Azsia Johnson of Staten Island.

New York City Council member Julie Menin, who represents the area, said on Twitter that the victim was the child's mother. 

Authorities brought the baby to Metropolitan Hospital for observation. The child was in an undisclosed location on Thursday, according to Mayor Eric Adams who spoke about the incident during an event announcing a new gun violence initiative.

The shooting is being investigated as a "domestic incident." A woman who said she was Johnson's mother also said the shooting was a result of domestic violence at a candlelight vigil on Thursday evening. 

A child who was playing in a nearby park witnessed the shooting.

"We strongly believe it was not a random shooting. The victim was targeted. The police department is conducting an ongoing investigation," Adams said. "We are going to catch the persons who are responsible for this action. The exact location of the child we don't want to put out right now but we are in communication with family members."

The commissioner said the gunman, who has not been identified yet, was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants. 

"At this time, there are no arrests, and I am urging anyone who has information that can help us with this investigation to please call us at 1-800-577-TIPS," Sewell said. "All tips will be kept strictly confidential."

Although shootings are down so far this year from 2021, the police, mayor, and governor have been sounding the alarm over the continued proliferation of illegal firearms in the city.

"More guns in our city means more lives lost," Adams said during a news conference at the site of the shooting. "It means more babies crying, as those who love them lie dead."