SCHENECTADY — At first, the woman didn’t realize she had been shot.
She felt pressure at the back of her head.
But then Aishah Goodwin saw her partner, Dushawn Howard, shoot her 16-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, she said.
One of the bullets entered the couch just inches away from where their infant son was lying.
Goodwin testified that after Howard shot her, he used his hulking 6‘ 5,” 320-pound frame to pin her down with his stomach to prevent her from helping her children.
He shot the boy a second time before aiming the firearm at the baby, apologizing before pulling the trigger, Goodwin said.
Howard 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 shooting at 1373 Union St.
His attorney, Mark Sacco, has argued the injuries were the result of a struggle for the firearm, which hasn’t been located.
Their explosive relationship had been kindled by poverty, addiction and bad choices, Sacco said.
Goodwin, 36, testified on Monday that the two struggled several times during the incident. But the incidences did not result in the firearm being discharged, she said, and took place after she and her two children had been already shot by Howard.
The shooting left her disoriented and she went into the bathroom to assess her injuries.
A second struggle ensued after her daughter and Howard collided in the hallway during the melee, Goodwin said.
“He went to shoot her again.”
Goodwin ultimately located the baby and carried him into an adjoining bedroom, shutting the door. She left the house to seek help from a neighbor, leaving the child in the bedroom.
Her injured children — one of whom testified last week that Howard had shot him — had already escaped.
Goodwin said she banged on the door of the third-floor tenant for help.
By then, she realized the extent of her injuries: The bullet entered behind her ear and exited through her neck, leaving her bleeding profusely and spitting blood, teeth and tissue.
Goodwin nearly passed out, but said she saw an image of her mother who told her, “Not yet.”
She went back inside to rescue her child.
But Howard confronted her and allegedly said, “Look what you made me do. You’re all going to die.”
“And he puts the gun under his chin and pulled the trigger,” Goodwin said.
Howard fled out the back door, she said. She made her way outside — sliding down the second-floor staircase because the steps were slick with blood — and was rescued by first responders, who later retrieved the uninjured baby.
Goodwin was transported to Albany Medical Center, where she spent over three weeks recuperating from injuries that first responders described as life-threatening.
She continues to have trouble speaking as a result of her injuries, which required jaw reconstruction, and said she continues to suffer from nightmares and flashbacks.
Prosecutors have traced the roots of the shooting to when Howard allegedly punched Goodwin in the face on April 11, leading to his arrest and a restraining order.
The two had been dating since 2015, Goodwin said. But by 2018, their relationship grew more turbulent and curdled into “disgust” as Howard became addicted to crack cocaine and heroin.
Goodwin acknowledged she regularly used marijuana, but only engaged in harder recreational drugs when they were supplied by Howard.
Before issues came to a head that April, Goodwin said Howard placed a .38 revolver onto their bed and threatened her.
“He told me if I left, he would kill me, the children and himself,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin ultimately lost her job as a certified nursing assistant, but was scared of telling Howard. She stayed with a friend for two days. When she returned home to retrieve materials from a safe for an upcoming job interview and clothes for a child, Howard became agitated.
Tempers flared, she acknowledged.
“I called him a dope fiend,” Goodwin said. “He lost control. He punched me in my face.”
They tussled, and Goodwin clawed at his face, she said.
She left. But her friend and babysitter ultimately called 911, which led to Howard’s arrest on several charges, including two counts of aggravated criminal contempt, third-degree assault and second degree-menacing.
He was issued a full order of protection barring any contact with her.
But Goodwin acknowledged that by June she had allowed Howard to violate that order, citing a desire to reconcile their relationship.
“I wanted Dushawn to get help," Goodwin said. "I loved Dushawn."
But she ultimately decided to sever the relationship and move in with her father and four children, one of whom was not present at the time of the shooting.
Goodwin acknowledged during cross examination that on at one least occasion she used heated language, writing, “I will kill you, [expletive]” in a text message to Howard.
But she said those messages painted an incomplete portrait because some information was left out.
And furthermore, she said, that was a figure of speech sent in a fit of anger.
“I wasn’t going to kill him literally,” she said.
On the morning of July 10, detectives knocked on her door at Union Street to issue a subpoena that would require her to testify against Howard for his upcoming trial.
Goodwin acknowledged lying to detectives when asked if Howard was there.
“I didn’t want to stir anything up,” she said.
She went back upstairs and placed the document on their nightstand.
Howard allegedly said, “You’re going to let them railroad me.”
Goodwin said she told Howard she would discuss it after she returned from installing appliances at her future new home.
She went into the bathroom to take a bath, but Howard entered.
“He tried to drown me,” Goodwin said. “I fought him out of the tub.”
She acknowledged breaking free, pushing him into the tub and throwing a fan in afterward in an attempt to electrocute him.
Asked by Sacco if she intended on killing him, she said, “Absolutely.”
“Did you succeed?” Sacco asked.
“Unfortunately not,” Goodwin said.
The struggle resulted in damage to the room.
She took a shower to wash plaster off, and he went to change his clothes.
Right before she was about to leave, she decided to change the baby’s diaper.
That’s when the shooting started.
Also testifying on Monday was the third-floor resident, who said she slept through the shooting and was only alerted to the incident after waking up and seeing notifications from friends and loved ones on her smartphone.
Law enforcement warned her against looking into the second-floor apartment as they were escorting her out.
But she did.
“Aishah’s phone was sitting in a pile of blood,” said the woman. “At that point, I started screaming.”
Testimony is expected to continue throughout the week.