They seemed like a normal, happy family. But now, the friends, family and neighbors of Jonathan Walker are in disbelief as they grapple to understand what would cause him to kill his wife, 7-year-old daughter and mother-in-law before eventually turning the gun on himself.
By all accounts, the 6-foot-6, ex-international basketball player seemed like a loving father. But on Saturday morning, Walker came home at 5:38a.m and methodically went from bedroom to bedroom shooting each of his family members in the head. The only remaining witness of the gruesome attack is his 12-year-old daughter, Christina Walker, who survived the gunshot to her head and bravely dialed 911 for help.
Police rushed to the blood-splattered home to find bodies of Walker’s wife, Shantai Hale, 31; her mom, Viola, 62; and his youngest, Kayla Walker, 7 lying on the floor.
Christina told authorities that her father inexplicably snapped. Authorities remain stumped about the motive of these murders, as the family had no history of domestic violence and seemed happy and well-adjusted to those who knew them.
“He was a very nice person and a great father,” said a teary Wendell Warren, one of Viola’s six siblings. “He loved his kids. We thought he’d do anything for them. “It’s devastating, but nobody saw this coming. Nobody knew this, nobody.”
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce says at 6a.m — just minutes after the shootings, Walker reached out to his brother in Las Vegas for a final goodbye. “Basically, he states to his brother, ‘What I did, I cannot come back from,’ and there’s a short conversation thereafter,” Boyce said.
After the phone conversation, he killed himself at the end of a dirt road in a wooded area near the Bergen Basin, a waterway just west of Kennedy Airport. NYPD ended their five-hour manhunt when they found him dead with a .45-caliber slug that he had shot into his skull.
“Right now, it looks like he just flipped out,” a source told the Daily News.
Family and friends insist there were absolutely no hints of problems between the couple or their daughters. Just hours before the shooting, Walker even hosted a Friday night get-together of relatives at the home.
No one knew that would be the last time they’d see the family alive.
After giving her heart-wrenching statement to police, Christina Walker went into surgery Saturday morning at Long Island Jewish Hospital.
She was in critical but stable condition in a medically induced coma late Saturday, police said.
Joseph Simmons, a cousin gave an update on the young girl.
Actually, she’s doing well. When he went to shoot her, she just happened to move for a quick second and it went through her head, through the nostril cavity and out the top of her eye. So it was almost like that split second kind of saved her life.
He was looking at her when he shot her. She was looking at him. Literally looking at her. She was the one that called 911 and said, ‘My dad did it.’
Sources say after getting shot in the face and calling 911, Christina also managed to open the door for responding cops.