York City shooting victim loved family, modeling, friends say

Dover High School junior Emily Shoemaker photographs a mock accident scene at the Dover Area High School Thursday, May 9, 2019. Local fire, ambulance and police volunteered for the event which reminds high school upperclassmen to be safe during prom season. Dover's prom in Saturday, May 11. Bill Kalina photo

Emily Shoemaker did not back down from a challenge. Whether it was personally or professionally, she was a go-getter.

Her co-workers at Johnny's Raceway Eatery in Dover Township described her as loving, funny and outgoing, never hesitant to speak her mind.

"If Emily didn't agree, she was going to let you know that she didn't agree," said manager Daysha Shaffer.

Shoemaker, 17, died in Thursday's shooting in York City, suffering multiple gunshot wounds while driving before crashing into another vehicle and a tree on West College Avenue, officials said Friday. 

About 5 p.m. Thursday, a green Kia Soul driven by Shoemaker, of Leah Avenue in Dover, was westbound on West College Avenue, from the area of South George Street, at the time of the incident, police said. Shoemaker was shot but continued driving before ultimately crashing. She died less than an hour later of a gunshot wound to the head, officials said. 

Police are still attempting to locate the person who shot her and the vehicle involved in the incident, which was driven from the scene in the area of West College Avenue and Beaver Street, York City Police said Friday morning.

A 17-year-old boy from Dover riding with Shoemaker also suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was taken to York Hospital, where he is in stable condition, police said. Another passenger, a 16-year-old boy from Dover, was located by officers at York Hospital after he was taken there in another vehicle. He was treated for a broken arm. 

Officers said they do not believe the shooting was random.

"I was in such shock when I heard because Emily's just the type of person where you would just never expect it," Shaffer said. "She did not get in trouble."

A Dover Area High School senior at the time of her death, Shoemaker was active in several sports over the course of her school career, including high school volleyball, middle school softball and some cheerleading in her younger years.

Dannielle Barlow, whom Shoemaker's co-workers identified as her former middle school softball coach, posted this Friday on Facebook:

"You know life is a funny thing ... you look back and think that bad things only happen to bad people but that’s not right. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We butted heads at the start but my god you grew to love me," she wrote.

Police gather around debris on West College Avenue, which is blocked off with crime scene tape at about 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12.

Shoemaker's drive for what she was passionate about was well known and evident in her aspiring career as a model. According to Shoemaker's Facebook page, she was a former model for the Hollister Co.

"Her love for modeling was like something I've never seen," Shaffer said. "That's something she talked about every single day."

Shoemaker did local photoshoots for blogs, but fellow Dover junior and co-worker Kaitlyn Digiovanni, 16, said Shoemaker also recently came back from a shoot for a clothing company in Atlanta.

"She put herself out there," said Makensie Husson, 17, another co-worker and junior who went to high school with Shoemaker.

And her interests also stretched beyond modeling, said Digiovanni, who heard she wanted to be a nurse. Shaffer added that besides modeling, Shoemaker's main goal was to become a flight attendant because she loved to travel.

But her drive was rooted in a strong sense of family and a heart for others.

"I've had many people come to me and say that they moved to Dover and she was the first one to actually welcome them," Shaffer said.

Shoemaker could always be found having conversations with her customers or playing with the restaurant's two resident stray cats. She had three rescue cats herself — "with her intention of only having one," Husson joked.

Several fundraisers are set up to aid Shoemaker's family with the cost of funeral services. Shaffer said Shoemaker's mother is fully deaf and her father is partially deaf. They also have another daughter, Shoemaker's 8-year-old sister, Maxine.

"She was very family-oriented," Shaffer said. "Her main priority was always her mother and her little sister."

A GoFundMe page was set up for Shoemaker, and as of about 3 p.m. Saturday had far surpassed its original $10,000 goal. By Sunday afternoon, the fundraiser had raised nearly $14,000 of a new $15,000 goal.

Husson said Dover High had a moment of silence for Shoemaker during announcements, but no special events are planned as yet.

Another local business owner, Tim Rahley, said Shoemaker went to school with his daughter, Tori, who had the idea to set up a fundraiser at each of her father's four Pizza Box and Hoagie locations, one of which is in Dover.

Johnny's is also collecting donations through the weekend.

Rahley said it's typical of Dover residents to band together and support someone from the community.

Shoemaker's death is the 15th homicide in York City this year and brings the county total to 20, according to the coroner's office.

Anyone with information is asked to call the York City police tip line at 717-849-2204 or the police department at ‪717-846-1234 or 717-849-2219.

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Crime scene tape blocks a section of West College Avenue where it intersects with South Penn Street, in York City, at about 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019.