Police: Mount Wolf homicide victim targeted
- Ahshantianna Ali Johnson, 19, died five days after she was assaulted, according to the coroner.
Northeastern Regional Police say a young Mount Wolf woman was targeted in an assault that caused her death.
Ahshantianna Johnson, 19, died of head trauma Thursday afternoon, five days after she was attacked in her backyard, the York County Coroner's Office said. An autopsy conducted Saturday at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown classified the death as a homicide.
Johnson was injured about 3 a.m. March 25 by one or more assailants in the 100 block of South Second Street, and she was admitted to WellSpan York Hospital, according to a news release from York County Coroner Pam Gay.
Johnson was pronounced dead at the hospital at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the release states.
Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo said his department is investigating Johnson's assault, and no suspects are in custody.
Rizzo said Friday afternoon that Johnson's death was the first homicide for the department since 2005.
He said the department is following leads, but he could not give out full details of the incident. The chief said Johnson had just driven home and was walking back to her home when she was assaulted.
"She was found in the backyard, she was coming home," he said.
Rizzo said the department was surprised to hear about the assault and homicide.
"Especially in the borough," he said. "It's one of our quietest areas."
Rizzo said the public should not be concerned for their safety.
"We believe this was an isolated incident, she was possibly targeted," he said.
That night: Johnson's neighbors said they were shocked to hear about her death.
Lamarr Gray, who lives a few houses down from Johnson, said his 16-year-old son heard something about the time she was assaulted.
His son informed him of it, and later on Gray said he heard noises coming from the area of Johnson's backyard.
At the time he didn't know what the sound was, but Gray now believes it was the sound of Johnson's labored breathing.
He recalled looking out from his backyard and seeing a car speed off. About 20 minutes later, an ambulance showed up.
"She had to be out there 10 to 20 minutes," Gray said Friday afternoon.
Not long after, a police officer came to his home to talk to him.
"So you're telling me, that someone was out in that backyard, basically dying?" Gray remembered asking the officer.
The officer told him that she was taken to the hospital.
Gray said police could be seen in the backyard with flashlights, investigating for more than two hours.
Reaction: Despite the assault, Gray isn't concerned about his safety in Mount Wolf.
"From what I'm hearing, it was not a random act," he said.
Gray did not know Johnson, but said he knew her parents when he was younger. He said he went to school with them.
A few doors down from Gray live Dee Deardorff and Kelly Shaffer, who both shared similar thoughts. They said they weren't concerned for their safety.
Shaffer and Deardorff said they found out about Johnson's death Friday. They said they were shocked to hear the news.
"There's been nothing like this (here)," Shaffer said.
Deardorff moved to Mount Wolf 12 years ago from York City.
"I'm used to that in the city," she said, adding that it's one of the reasons she left.
Now, she's surprised to see something like that happen on her block in the tiny borough of Mount Wolf, which is home to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.
Neither knew Johnson. Deardorff said Johnson was one of the few neighbors on her block she did not know.
Gray said he thinks about what he would have done had he known Johnson was out there at the time. He said he wonders what would have happened if he had done something.
"I'm probably gonna think about it a lot," he said.
Rizzo said anyone with information on the incident should call the department at 717-266-6195.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.
Staff reporter Jason Addy contributed to this report.