Jonathon Walker came home early on Saturday morning. There, in the still calm of a winter’s dawn, he went from bedroom to bedroom, shooting three female family members to death, including his youngest daughter, and sending another of his daughters to the hospital. Shortly after the sound of the gunfire had ended, Walker called his brother on the phone and told him, “What I did, I cannot come back from.” He was discovered dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his parked car six miles from his New York home – the location of his sudden late night murder spree.
Walker, 34, worked as a security guard and as a bouncer in a nightclub. He was six-and-a-half feet tall and had previously played professional basketball in Portugal. Among those he killed Saturday morning was his daughter, Kayla Walker, 7; his girlfriend, Shantai Hale, 31; and Hale’s mother, Viola Warren, 62. The eldest daughter of Walker and Hale, 12, was wounded and is currently being treated at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, where she has been placed in a medically-induced coma. Her condition is listed as critical but stable. Guardian Liberty Voice does not identify minors who have been victims of crime. Warren’s sister, Jennifer Warren, lived downstairs in the New York duplex. She suffers from a hearing problem and did not hear the shots.
Robert Boyce, chief of detectives, says that police had been called to the Brookville neighborhood house in Queens in 2005 and 2006 for “nominal” domestic incidents. Walker’s police record indicates that he had been arrested twice, but the cases have since been sealed. Hale’s cousin, Joseph Simmons, told The New York Times that Hale had recently expressed dissatisfaction with her relationship with Walker, with whom she had lived ever since becoming pregnant with their oldest daughter and dropping out of high school. They had never married. According to Simmons, his cousin had turned to religion after realizing her relationship with Walker was failing and had been posting spiritual sayings on her social media accounts.
Detectives are attempting to piece together Walker’s activities just prior to the murders. According to Chief Boyce, police believe Walker arrived home at 5:38 a.m. Only a few minutes later, 911 dispatchers received a call from the eldest daughter telling them that her dad had shot the family. Officers were on the scene within three minutes, and found the victims’ bodies on the floors of their bedrooms. By that time, Walker had left the scene in his vehicle. Their search for his SUV ended just before midday. The killer’s body was discovered inside along with a .45-caliber handgun.
Viola Warren’s brother, Wendell Warren, said that the wounded girl had undergone surgery on Saturday, and that “she’s determined to live.” He described her as “always tough.” That toughness was evident by the actions of the girl just after she and the other three victims in her house were shot in the head. An exit wound near her eye indicated where the bullet had left her skull. The head injury caused her words to be difficult to understand, but she persevered when calling 911. She was able to make it down the stairs to let in the officers when they arrived on the scene, managing to speak with them for 15 minutes.
Wendell Warren’s mother, Doreen, is in disbelief and had just talked to her daughter, Viola Warren, two days ago. She discovered what had happened after turning on her television and seeing coverage of the event. During their family’s Christmas gathering, which Walker, Hale and Viola had attended, neither woman expressed having any sort of problem with him or gave any indication that there was trouble in the two-family New York home.
By Jennifer Pfalz
Wall Street Journal
New York Post