Harlem in particular, and the city in general remain horrified after a pregnant mother and her unborn child were shot and killed after her baby shower on Sunday, Sept. 12.
The NYPD arrested 40-year-old Justin Soriano, the woman’s ex-boyfriend, on Thursday in connection with the shooting. He faces several charges including second-degree murder and acting in a manner injurious to a child.
“Domestic violence is a national health crisis,” said Stephanie McGraw, of anti-domestic violence group W.A.R.M. (We All Really Matter).
McGraw said, “I tell a woman domestic violence is a crime. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. He murdered her because she was trying to get away from the abuse.”
Investigators say the suspect fatally shot Shanice Young, 31, once in the face and once in the head Sunday at approximately 1:15 a.m., in front of her building at 300 W. 128th St., near Frederick Douglass Boulevard. EMS rushed the pregnant woman to Harlem Hospital, but medics couldn’t save her nor her unborn child.
Distraught friends and family members lashed out, accusing Young’s ex-boyfriend of stalking her.
Sources said Young, her two daughters, the father of her unborn child, and other relatives had just finished celebrating at her baby shower at a nearby location, for several hours, and were taking gifts from her car into her building lobby.
“I helped her put her gifts in the car and I said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’” her shocked father, Thurman Young, 57, recalled. “She said, ‘This baby is coming in five days, Daddy, get ready.’ I said ‘I’ll be ready.’ That’s the last thing she said to me.”
Reports stated that an ex-boyfriend then abruptly confronted them.
“[The gunman] came in chasing the boyfriend,” explained her building’s superintendent, Jose Morales, 46. “They ran through here and out the other side and they ran downstairs.”
Once back out on the street, they tussled, and Shanice Young attempted to intervene, which is when her ex, who was wearing a camouflage face-mask, allegedly let off his gun, striking Young once in the head as her stunned 15- and 6-year-old daughters witnessed from the car, and the shooter ran off.
“She stepped in between to break it up and got caught in the middle,” an NYPD spokesman revealed.
However, conflicting reports contend that the suspect “targeted her after [her boyfriend] got away”—as opposed to accidentally shooting her while aiming for him—based on interviews with relatives, witnesses and videos, police sources said.
Young’s family reached out to McGraw and Jackie Rowe Adams from Harlem Women SAVE, and they hosted Sunday’s vigil.
McGraw told the Amsterdam News that people in the neighborhood say that Soriano came back and destroyed the makeshift vigil.
Reportedly, Young endured “years of abuse at his hands before her death,” and her father revealed that she “had three orders of protection against her ex since their split.” Her father added, “She put him out because he was cheating on her. Then [he] does this because she had another boyfriend.”
Police aren’t certain if Young was the intended target, and are reviewing surveillance footage that captured the shooting for more clues.
“She was just a beautiful person,” reflected Morales. “It’s so sad, I wish it would have never happened.”
Young moved into the building about three years ago to care for her ailing mother, who eventually passed from ovarian cancer about a year ago. Friends said she was also taking care of her two younger siblings, as well as her own two daughters ever since.
“I am angry,” said Robert Rice, Community Chaplain at Harlem Hospital. “I’m outraged that we don’t have community out here. Where’s the outrage?”
Saturday’s shooting is one of 100 that the NYPD liaison has been called to this summer 2021.
With more than 800 shootings this year alone, with 1,000 victims, these gun violence stats have doubled since 2019.
Speaking to PIX 11, Rice said, “These young people out here picking up guns, shooting each other are crying out for help.”
Jackie Rowe Adams, co-founder of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E, an organization which works with gun violence victims, stated: “Somebody knows where this young man is. Let’s get him off the street. This is important. It’s not about snitching.”
While saying that many gunmen come from traumatized homes themselves, McGraw said that empathizing with Young’s children and family more than fearing the shooter is an issue.
“I tell the brothers to eradicate domestic violence you have to step up to the plate and speak out against it.”
McGraw said she understands the plight of women caught in the violence.
“Black and Brown victims still have this stigma, this shame. But it is not shame, it is a crime. I got out and I can help them get out. When I was trying to leave, that’s when it is dangerous. That’s when they see they are losing their power. Now, all my strength is helping other women gain theirs. I have helped more than 50 other women who told me, ‘Stephanie, I got out because of you.’ I came in to my purpose to help women see their greatness within themselves and get out and build.”
McGraw called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to assist “boots on the ground” groups like her own. “He gave Safe Horizon $20 million dollars, plus another $1 million to hire 20 managers. We do the work, they get the job.” Currently, McGraw said that she was “in my office with Shanice’s family until after 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, and I am dealing with ACS and lawyers.”
The Credible Messenger implored, “If Shanice had reached out to us at WARM, we would have helped her. She did say that he was going to kill her, but no one believed her. My job is to bring awareness, to empower, and educate our sisters going through it.”
McGraw urged the community to see WARM as a resource. “We are here—our arms and doors are open. We love women until they learn how to love themselves.”
The funeral for Shanice Young will be at Canaan Baptist Church on Thursday, Sept. 23, with viewing from 4-6 p.m., and the funeral service at 6 p.m.
For more WARM information:
www.weallreallymatter.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, hotline 917-736-1048, office 917-736-1621