Girl, 11, faces paralysis after dad shoots her in face

The Camden rowhouse where authorities say a father shot his daughter, 11, in the face Thursday night. (Darran Simon / Staff)
The Camden rowhouse where authorities say a father shot his daughter, 11, in the face Thursday night. (Darran Simon / Staff)
Posted: January 26, 2013

A Camden man purposely shot his 11-year-old daughter in the face late Thursday, and the child might be paralyzed, authorities said Friday.

The shooting occurred about 9:30 in a rowhouse on the 1300 block of Thurman Street in the Whitman Park section. The girl was in critical but stable condition at Cooper University Hospital on Friday.

"It was not an accident. He pointed the gun at her face and pulled the trigger," said Jason Laughlin, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

The girl's father, Byaer Johnson, 26, was shot by another man in the rowhouse. Johnson was arrested nearby shortly after he "violently fought the responding officers," Police Chief Scott Thomson said.

A relative of the 11-year-old would only reveal her nickname, Yassy. The girl is a member of Camden Sophisticated Sisters, a dance-and-drill team whose members range from youths to adults, the relative said.

"She's a good girl," the family member said.

The girl was in the home when Johnson arrived, the Prosecutor's Office and city police said. Johnson has addresses in Sicklerville, Camden, and Lindenwold, authorities said. A public records search also showed an address in Pine Hill.

Police said Johnson was at the house to visit the girl when he suddenly pulled out a handgun and put it on the living room floor. He was asked by someone in the house to leave.

Johnson then allegedly picked up the gun and shot the girl in the face.

"It's incomprehensible how a man shoots a small girl, let alone his own daughter," Thomson said. "It's senseless."

Johnson then pointed the gun at the other man in the home, a 28-year-old Camden resident, and pulled the trigger, the Prosecutor's Office said. But the weapon jammed.

The 11-year-old "could suffer paralysis" as a result of her injuries, the Prosecutor's Office said.

Authorities said the 28-year-old man wrestled with Johnson. The man struck Johnson several times with the gun, then fired it at him, wounding Johnson in the buttocks.

Jahira Ramirez, who lives several houses down the street, said she heard screams that she believed were from the girl's mother.

Ramirez looked outside and saw a man on Thurman in front of the girl's house.

"I heard the gunshots and I saw him hit the ground," Ramirez said. "He was limping, screaming, and hollering."

Police found Johnson running toward the Ivy Hill apartment complex, less than a block away, and arrested him.

"As [the first officer] arrived on the scene, you could hear the gunshots coming over the radio," Thomson said.

When police arrested Johnson, "he still had blood on his clothes," Laughlin said.

Johnson was charged with attempted murder and weapons violations.

He was released on Valentine's Day after serving three years of a five-year sentence from 2007 on weapons and resisting arrest charges.

Johnson and an accomplice had tried to rob two men in Camden. The men turned out to be plainclothes officers, Thomson said.

The 28-year-old is not expected to be charged, the Prosecutor's Office said.

Johnson was taken to Cooper for treatment and then to the Camden County Jail.


Darran Simon can be reached at 856-779-3829 or dsimon@phillynews.com, or followed on Twitter @darransimon.

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