‘They didn’t believe me, and now my daughter is dead’: Mother of woman murdered on Upper East Side demands justice at memorial vigil


The mother of 20-year-old Azhia Johnson arrived Thursday night at the Upper East Side location where her daughter was murdered 24 hours earlier, with tears flowing down her cheeks and a question for bystanders clutching candles: “Did anyone of you see my daughter die?” 

The heartbreaking scene took place during a candlelight vigil that community members and elected officials held on June 30 for Johnson, who was gunned down on June 29 while pushing a stroller carrying her three-month-old baby.

As Johnson’s blood lay dried on East 95th Street and 3rd Avenue, Lisa Desort, wept and hurled accusations that her daughter had been facing domestic abuse from her former boyfriend since last year, yet authorities failed to act.

Candles were laid beside Johnson’s dried blood. Photo by Dean Moses
Lisa Desort, mother of Azhia Johnson, wept at the vigil. Photo by Dean Moses

“I kept telling them he’s threatening my daughter’s life and they didn’t believe me, and now my daughter is dead,” Desort said, referring to her daughter’s boyfriend.

While police have not yet identified a suspect, several sources close to the investigation believe Johnson — who was shot at close range — was targeted due to her relationship status.

Overcome with emotion, Desort was whisked away from the flickering candlelights and into the arms of an arriving Mayor Eric Adams. The mayor embraced the grieving parent while also attempting to console other members of the distressed family for several minutes before returning to the vigil.

Adams embraces mother of the slain 20-year-old. Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

“This community is traumatized, our city is traumatized. This is what the fight is about, the guns on our streets. This is what we have been talking about over and over again. These are real stories, real people who are losing their lives,” the mayor said.

The likes of Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Congress Members Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler, Council Member Julie Menin, domestic abuse help group W.A.R.M, and many more gathered together to mourn Johnson’s passing amidst teardrops and candle glow.

The mother of two was walking with her 3-month-old baby at around 8:30 pm on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on Wednesday night when, according to police, a hooded gunman callously shot her in the head in what can only be described as an execution.

No arrests have been made, thus far, in the ongoing investigation.

Photo by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses