Parents of baby shot to death grieve unbearable loss: ‘Snatched from us just like that’

Syracuse, N.Y. — The tinted windows of the 2003 Honda Accord were rolled down just enough for Desiree Seymore to see a pair of eyes and the barrel of a gun.

It pulled within a couple feet of the parked car that Seymore was sitting in with her baby, two girls and her cousin, the driver.

Seymore saw the man’s eyes dart, head swivel and the window roll down.

The man pushed the gun’s barrel out the window and started firing.

One bullet hit the pelvis of an 8-year-old girl. Another hit a 3-year-old girl.

Three shots struck 11-month-old Dior Harris, who was in a car seat sandwiched between her cousins in the back seat. Seymore, in the front passenger’s seat, looked back at her daughter and saw blood. Dior made no sounds.

A shot to the little girl’s chest killed her.

Dior, who would have had her first birthday later this month, is the youngest victim of street violence in Syracuse’s history.

“Snatched from us just like that,” Seymore said. “We’ll never see her again, or wake up to her or nothing.”

In the days after the shooting, Dior’s family has gathered at a relative’s Syracuse home to remember Dior, console each other and try to understand what happened.

They wonder why someone would target the family. They can’t understand how the man accused in the shooting, Chavez Ocasio, who has his own newborn child, could shoot toward a car with kids.

They also worry about the stress on Seymore, who is pregnant with a boy due May 11. Dior’s mother sometimes cries, screams and then comes “back to earth.” She passed out multiple times the day Dior was killed and then again when the medical examiner called to tell her that the bullet to Dior’s chest had killed her.

By now, Seymore has run herself through the seconds-long shooting on Sunday evening dozens of times. It is no longer a moment.

Surrounded by her family, Seymore this week sat down for the first time and shared with | The Post-Standard what happened.

Seymoure’s cousin, Shakema Buckmon, had driven Seymore and the children to Western Lights Plaza to buy some crab legs. On the way back, they briefly stopped near Grant Avenue and South Geddes Street, where Buckmon lives.

That’s when the car police believe belonged to Ocasio pulled alongside Buckmon’s black Ford Fusion and the shooting started. Police say at least five shots were fired.

They f—ing shooting, Seymore remembers yelling. We got to go.

But Buckmon’s car didn’t move, for reasons unclear to Seymore.

When the shots stopped, Seymore expected chaos: tires screeching, skid marks on the road and the shooter’s car speeding away. Instead, the car just rolled down the street.

She would later be struck by the brazenness of the shooting. Seymore said the shooter didn’t wear a face mask to hide his identity.

Buckmon’s car finally lurched, and she sped away.

Seymore looked back at Dior. She saw blood. She reached back to get Dior out of the car seat but couldn’t reach the belt.

In minutes, they reached a house at 157 Lincoln Ave., where Seymore’s sister lived. Seymore got out of the car and fell to the ground

My baby been shot, she remembers yelling.

Dior Harris

Dior Harris, 11 months, was killed Sunday night, April 11, 2021, when she was wounded by gunfire in a drive-by shooting in Syracuse.Provided photo

Milteshia Seymore, Desiree Seymore’s sister, rushed out of the house to help. She tried to rip the baby’s clothing off to find where the blood was coming from.

An off-duty EMT who was next door visiting his brother and identified himself to | The Post-Standard only as “DJ” ran to help the three girls.

Firefighters, paramedics and ambulance crews rushed to the scene.

Seymore asked the EMTs whether Dior would be OK. They didn’t answer.

When Seymore arrived at Upstate University Hospital, she asked nurses and doctors if her baby was OK.

Just tell me something. Is she breathing? Is she moving? Anything, she remembers asking.

They told her they had the best nurses and doctors.

Finally, someone told Seymore that Dior had died. She ran from the emergency waiting room into the emergency bay where her family was standing. Seymore collapsed and passed out.

Shaquail Harris, Dior’s father, had just gotten back to Syracuse on Sunday from New Jersey with two of Dior’s siblings when the baby was shot.

He’d saved up money from his job at Paperworks, a paper packaging factory near Baldwinsville, to take Dezriana, 12, and Shaquail Jr., 4, to Nickelodeon Park for their birthdays.

Before he’d gone, Seymore asked Harris to take Dior with him. Harris told Seymore that Dior was too young. After the shooting, Harris wondered whether Dior would be alive had he taken her to New Jersey.

He’s since struggled to explain to his son that Dior died.

My sisters dead now, Daddy? Shaquail has asked. While he says the words, Harris doubts he understands their gravity.

“It’s not really registering in his mind,” Harris said. “He’s still a baby himself.”

Sitting on a couch, Harris pulled up on his phone videos and pictures.

“This was when she was first born,” he said of a picture of him holding Dior in the hospital.

Another video showed him asking to hold Dior after she was born.

He scrolled to another of the last time he saw Dior. “We went out to Red Lobster,” he said.

Harris had emphasized that he had to stay strong for his kids, his unborn son and Seymore. Before he pulled up the videos, Harris told a reporter he couldn’t cry anymore.

As he stared at the video taken at Red Lobster, he leaned on Shaquail Jr.’s shoulder and sobbed.

The family is surrounded by what Dior leaves behind.

In Dior’s room, Jordan 1 crib booties — the smallest size possible — sit on a dresser. A pink and white dress with a bunny knitted on the front is still on the store’s hanger. On the floor is Dior’s upright bouncer and a boxed-up Minnie Adventure Playland.

Seymore and Harris had just been to Walmart and bought Dior new clothes.

A rainbow bathing suit with imitation fish scales and the tag still attached lay on the living room couch. A purple pacifier sits next to an entertainment center.

An Easter basket from her first Easter sits on the coffee table. It’s filled with gifts, including soft gummies, an untouched chocolate Easter bunny and an unwrapped sippy cup.

Instead of planning for Dior’s first birthday on April 29, Seymore’s planning her funeral.

Seymore wants her daughter to be dressed in all white with a white headband when she’s buried.

“I know where she went. Straight to the Lord,” Seymore said. “… Pure. She was pure.”


A gofundme fundraiser has been started to help the family. Several efforts can be found online, but at this time the family prefers this GoFundMe.


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