Prosecutor: Schenectady man shot ex, two children, then tried to shoot baby

Dushawn Howard in court Thursday morning
Dushawn Howard in court Thursday morning

SCHENECTADY — Dushawn Howard methodically moved from room to room at his home last summer shooting family members, a prosecutor told a Schenectady County Court jury Thursday.

Prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham gave this account in court:

Howard shot his ex-girlfriend, Aishah Goodwin, the bullet entering behind her ear and exiting through her face.

He shot her 16-year-old daughter as she tried to escape, as well as her 7-year-old brother — twice.

When he arrived at his 1-year-old infant son, Howard tried to shoot him, too.

“Sorry,” Howard said as he aimed at the boy. 

He pulled the trigger. The gun clicked and did not fire and the baby was spared physical injury.

All survived.

After a failed attempt to again shoot the 16-year-old — Howard fought with the teenager in the bathroom before she escaped with her brother — he turned the gun on himself, shooting himself below the chin, Tremante-Pelham said. The bullet exited through his cheek.

“His suicide attempt fails, his murder attempt fails, so he runs,” Tremante-Pelham said. “Luckily no one died, but that was in spite of his best efforts.”


Howard, 47, of Schenectady, is standing trial in Schenectady County Court on four separate counts of second-degree attempted murder and numerous other charges, accused in the July 10, 2018 shooting at 1373 Union St.

As the trial began on Thursday, Tremante-Pelham offered a preview, sketched out in graphic detail, of what she said would be upcoming testimony from witnesses.

Howard, she said, was fulfilling a threat he made to Goodwin April 11, 2018 when he beat her and revealed his .38-revolver and placed it onto their bed.

“If you leave me, I’ll kill you. I’ll kill the kids and I’ll kill myself,” he said, according to the prosecutor.

Goodwin was changing her son’s diaper when the shooting started. 

Defense attorney Mark Sacco disputes Tremante-Pelham’s account of the shooting, contending the events were the result of a explosive relationship on both sides kindled by a toxic mix of poverty, addiction and bad choices.

“They add up to a very ugly picture,” Sacco said during opening statements.

Both Goodwin and Howard struggled with addiction issues, he said. And both could be volatile. But Howard actually agreed to move out before the shooting, he said, and his bags were packed.

“They were fighting in the house. There was a struggle for the weapon. And four people were shot that day,” Sacco said. “This wasn’t a horrible, evil event in which Mr. Howard was trying to execute his family members.”

A gun was never found.

“What we fundamentally disagree with is what happened for 15 seconds in that apartment,” Sacco said.


If convicted of all four attempted-murder counts alone, Howard would face up to 100 years in prison.

Tremante-Pelham’s description of the shooting is the first public account of how Howard is accused of attempting to kill the baby, allegations of which were first made public in the indictment.

(The Daily Gazette is not identifying the underage victims in this incident.)

The 16-year-old ultimately called 911 after she and her brother fled.

Goodwin staggered to the door as law enforcement gathered outside. Soaked in blood, she managed to hold up a single finger to indicate her infant son remained inside.

First responders found the baby in a blood-spattered one-piece outfit, unclothed from the waist down because his mother was shot before she could finish changing his diaper.

After the attack, the survivors were transported to Albany Medical Center, Goodwin with life-threatening injuries.

Howard left a blood trail down neighboring streets as he fled, police said.

He allegedly tried to catch rides with two passing motorists before ultimately retreating to a friend’s house on Summit Avenue, offering conflicting versions of his physical condition.

His host convinced him to allow her to call 911 and report someone was having a heart attack.

But she whispered to dispatchers: “It’s a gunshot,” according to the prosecutor.

Howard spent the duration of Thursday’s court proceedings intently writing on legal pads and examining paperwork.

But he looked up and listened at the description of his capture.

And the deceit allegedly continued even after in custody, Tremante-Pelham said. The defendant penned letters to his friend that urged Goodwin to recant her testimony, replete with suggested quotes outlining a new account depicting the events that led to the shooting.


The shooting unfolded three months after Goodwin told police she feared for her life and the lives of her children. 

On April 11, 2018, Howard repeatedly punched her in the face, resulting in multiple misdemeanor charges being filed against him, as well as a two-day jail stay on $1,000 bail and a full stay-away order of protection for both the woman and her children, witnesses testified on Thursday.

The couple reconciled in late spring — perhaps against Goodwin’s better judgment, Tremante-Pelham said — and Howard was again residing with the family.

But tensions came to a head just six days before Howard was to stand trial for charges connected with that dispute.

Dawn Cooper-Rapp, the family’s child-care provider who placed the 911 call to report the beating, testified Thursday to attending to her friend following the assault.

She said she was scheduled to drive Goodwin to a job interview but Goodwin called and canceled.

“She called and said she couldn’t make it because Dushawn beat the [expletive] out of her,” Cooper-Rapp testified to jurors. 

One of Goodwin’s children described watching the man he used to call “Du” strike his mother.

“He punched my mom,” said the boy, who is now 13.

Schenectady Patrolman Thomas Higgins, who responded to the call, described her injuries for the jury. 

Officers later located Howard hiding in the basement of a residence on McClyman Street, drawing him out of hiding with a K9 unit. 

On July 10, the day of the shooting, Goodwin was served with a subpoena at her house to testify at Howard’s assault trial stemming from the beating, which was scheduled for July 16. A short time later an argument between Howard and Goodwin escalated into the shooting, the prosecutor said. 

Howard continues to face two counts of aggravated criminal contempt, third-degree assault and second degree-menacing in connection with the April 11 incident.

The attempted-murder trial is expected to continue through next week.

Reach Gazette reporter Pete DeMola at 518-395-3113, [email protected] or @pmdemola on Twitter.


Also Thursday:

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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