SCHENECTADY — The boy was sitting next to his mother when she was shot.
Then the man turned the gun on him.
“Oh god,” said the boy. “I covered my face with a pillow and he shot me in my stomach.”
That’s the account the young victim gave at the second day of the attempted-murder trial of Dushawn Howard on Friday.
The boy was just 7 when his mother’s boyfriend, Dushawn Howard, allegedly shot and wounded him last July at their Union Street home in an attack prosecutors have described as a failed murder-suicide attempt.
His mother, Aishah Goodwin, was also shot and injured, as well as his older sister.
All participants ultimately survived — including Howard, who attempted suicide.
The boy, who is now 8 and aspires to either join the military or become a police officer, recalled the shooting in testimony to a Schenectady County Court jury Friday.
He described playing video games when Howard allegedly shot his mother, who was changing his infant brother’s diaper at the time.
“Mom was trying to leave and stay away from him,” he said.
The Daily Gazette is not identifying the underage victims in this incident.
Howard, 47, of Schenectady, is standing trial on four separate counts of second-degree attempted murder and numerous other charges in connection with the July 10 shooting at 1373 Union St.
Howard doesn’t deny the shooting, but disputes the account of the day’s events outlined by prosecutors on Thursday, contending the injuries were the result of a struggle for the firearm, which has not been located.
The explosive relationship on both sides had been kindled by a combination of poverty, addiction and bad choices, said Howard’s defense attorney, Mark Sacco.
The boy’s testimony is unsworn, which means jurors must consider his statements in conjunction with other evidence and sworn accounts, Judge Kathleen B. Hogan told jurors.
The child also testified he saw an enraged Howard emerge from a bathroom before the shooting, claiming his mother had attempted to electrocute him by throwing a toaster into the bathtub.
“You tried to electrocute me,” he recalled Howard as saying.
The boy was shot in the thigh and chest. Jurors were shown photos of the injuries and heard testimony from first responders who treated him before his transport to Albany Medical Center.
“My overall assessment was that we believed him to be critically injured and required treatment at a trauma facility,” testified Mark Carl, a paramedic with the Schenectady Fire Department.
‘MY BABY’S STILL IN THERE’
In the second day of testimony on Friday, first responders and law enforcement officials described arriving at a scene of chaos.
Upon arrival, officers watched Goodwin emerge from the house, stunned.
“She was definitely in a state of shock,” said K-9 Officer Eric Peters.
Before eventually collapsing, she said, “My baby’s still in there. I’m not sure where he is, but he might be in there,” Peters testified.
Officers grabbed the woman and escorted her to safety.
The 7-year-old and 16-year-old sister had previously escaped, but were unable to take the infant with them when Goodwin was shot in the head.
Howard had already fled out the back, unbeknown to law enforcement, leaving a trail of blood.
Police learned the infant remained inside, and made the decision to enter the residence to retrieve him — even without the proper tactical gear.
“We made a decision to enter the building although there may have been somebody in the building armed,” testified Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford. “Typically we won’t go into a building with an armed suspect unless it’s to save someone’s life.”
Peters described identifying members of the department’s Special Operations Squad and assembled the team.
“I realized we needed to make a hasty entrance into this house to secure this baby,” Peters said.
Responders recounted a blood-spattered stairwell leading up to the second-floor apartment, which was also covered in blood.
After breaking down the door with a battering ram, officers located the baby.
“I could see a baby in a crib standing and crying,” testified Patrolman Jonathan Haigh.
A sergeant scooped the infant up and handed him to Sgt. Matthew Dearing, who carried the baby outside.
“At that point, an infant child was passed to me and I left the apartment,” Dearing testified.
Courtney Breslin, a firefighter and paramedic with Schenectady Fire Department, transported the baby to Ellis Hospital to check for injuries.
“He was sitting on the stretcher staring straight ahead, emotionless,” Breslin said.
Prosecutors said during opening arguments that Howard had attempted to shoot his infant son, saying “sorry” beforehand.
But the gun clicked and did not fire and the baby was spared physical injury.
Howard turned the gun on himself, shooting himself below the chin, with the bullet exiting out his cheek.
Jurors were shown photos of the 1-year-old immediately after his rescue, his face still spattered with blood.
Howard sobbed quietly.
He faces a wealth of additional charges related to the shooting, as well as two counts of aggravated criminal contempt, third-degree assault and second degree-menacing in connection with an incident on April 11 that prosecutors contend set the shooting in motion.
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.
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