An 11-month-old baby was killed and her two young cousins injured during a family outing to the grocery store in upstate New York – the latest victims of a soaring gun crime epidemic sweeping the United States.
Dior Harris, due to celebrate her first birthday on April 29, was shot several times in in a volley of gunfire while traveling in the backseat of the car in Syracuse at 7pm Sunday night.
Dior’s cousins, sisters aged 3 and 8 were also hit; the older sibling is due to undergo surgery for a gunshot wound to her pelvic area that authorities say nearly killed her.
They are both in a stable condition.
Dior’s mother Desiree Seymour and the mother of the injured girls, Shakema Buckmon, who were in the front seat and escaped injury, took the children to Upstate University Hospital, where Dior died.
Buckmon told CNY Central they’d done everything they could to save the baby.
‘I tried to get to the hospital as fast as I could, I tried, I tried but she had already passed before we could make it down the street.’
A distraught Seymour took to social media to pay tribute to her daughter.
‘There so many things that you had to do and couldn’t all because a f***ing coward came and took you from me. Lord why, why me is all I keep asking my baby was innocent. She didn’t deserve this.’
Chavez R. Ocasio, 23, has appeared in court charged with Dior’s murder.
Dior Harris was killed and her two young cousins were wounded after being shot in the back seat of a car as they drove to the grocery store with their mothers
Desiree Seymour, right, was in the car when her daughter Dior, left was shot and killed. ‘Lord why, why me is all I keep asking my baby was innocent. She didn’t deserve this’ she wrote
The three girls were in the backseat while their mothers were in the front of the car driving through the Strathmore neighborhood when shots were fired into the vehicle from a passing car. Crime scene pictured
Buckmon told NewsChannel 9 that they had been on their way to the grocery store on Sunday evening when the shooting took place in the 300 block of Grant Avenue, Syracuse.
The three girls were in the backseat while their mothers were in the front of the car driving through the Strathmore neighborhood when shots were fired into the vehicle from a passing car.
Buckmon, the driver and mother of two of the injured, drove away and made it a mile further to a relative’s home when they realized the children had been hurt.
‘They drove away as they were being shot at. After she realized the children were injured, she stopped and called 911,’ Investigative Bureau Chief Derek McGork said.
Dior was rushed to Upstate University Hospital, where she died of her injuries, CNY Central reported.
Police tape blocks off the scene of the drive-by shooting in Syracuse. A 23 year old man named Chavez Ocasio has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh described the incident as an ‘unimaginable tragedy’.
‘This tragedy is the definition of senseless. How could anyone in their right mind point a gun at a vehicle in broad daylight with children in it?’
At a news conference Monday morning, Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner said they had not identified a suspect and appealed for information from the public.
By 8pm that evening, police had arrested Chavez R. Ocasio, 23, and booked him on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a firearm, tampering with physical evidence and violation of parole, according to Onondaga County Justice Center records.
Ocasio pleaded not guilty at a court appearance on Tuesday morning.
Judge Erica Clarke agreed to a rare request from prosecutors to seal the file, as revealing too much information about their evidence could jeopardize an ongoing investigation.
Chavez may not be being accused of having pulled the trigger, Syracuse.com reported.
At a vigil held in honor of Dior on Monday evening, Buckmon announced that an arrest had been made in connection with the shooting, according to a report in Syracuse.com.
Residents of Syracuse carrying candles and pictures of Dior wept and prayed as they came out to pay tribute to the slain baby.
Family members had to be physically held up during the vigil, CNY Central reported.
‘They shot my daughter, that’s my baby that got murdered,’ a man said.
A cry of ‘Justice for Dior’ rang out, while another speaker said ‘we got to do better’.
The murder continues an alarming spike in homicides beginning in 2020.
FBI statistics for 2020, show there was a 25 percent increase in homicides compared to the previous year, after a surge in gun violence.
The nearly 4,000 additional murders recorded throughout 2020 is believed to be their biggest single year increase on record.
That trend carried over into 2021. Already in 2021, there has been more than 130 mass shootings: defined as having more than four victims.
These have included the March 16 spree in Atlanta, in which a gunman killed eight people and wounded six at three massage parlors in the Georgia city.
Six days later in in Boulder, Colorado, ten people were killed, including a local on-duty police officer.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk