A 22-year-old woman was shot and killed in her Port Richmond bedroom overnight with her daughter nearby, police said.
Police identified the victim as Stephanie Dzikowski, a dental assistant who, according to neighbors, had grown up in the house where she was shot and was well liked by those who knew her.
Police said they were called to the 3000 block of Aramingo Avenue about 11 p.m. Thursday after getting a call for a person with a gun and were directed to Dzikowski’s house.
Police Capt. Drew Techner told reporters at the scene that the neighbors went into the house to investigate and found the victim in a second-floor bedroom with the toddler, who was unharmed. Dzikowski had been shot once in the head.
Neighbors told a story of a gunshot, a toddler found alone, and search that end with a shocking discovery announced with a piercing scream and shouts on the street.
Brian Pabon, who lives one or two doors down from the Dzikowski house, said a neighbor called and said there had been what sounded like a gunshot in the house and that a friend had chased after the hooded bicyclist.
Pabon said he ran to the house where the victim lived with her father and boyfriend and opened the door, calling in, “Steph … Steph … Steph.”
Not hearing anything, he said he returned to the street and saw Dzikowski’s boyfriend, Sean Sandonwicz, returning from a nearby store, carrying groceries.
Pabon continued his account:
They went into the house together and heard music coming from an iPhone on a downstairs table and then went to the second floor.
In a bedroom, they found the couple’s daughter, Clarissa, sitting silently on the bed.
They did not see Dzikowski and searched the house down to the basement with the little girl in her father’s arms.
Sandonwicz seemed upset that Dzikowski would leave the child alone.
Papon suggested they look again on the second floor.
In the bedroom, Sandonwicz found his girlfriend slumped and bloodied on the side of the bed where they had not looked the first time.
“I ain’t ever seen a grown man scream and cry like that,” Papon said.
Neighbor Marie Larkins, 48, and her niece, Elizabeth Sterling, 25, a friend of the victim’s since childhood, were sitting in Larkins’ home when Sandonwicz started banging on the door, “screaming something that Steph was hurt or something.”
The two women ran to the house and upstairs and found Dzikowski on the side of the bed in a fetal position against the wall, covered in blood.
They tried to lay her out to perform CPR but Larkins said she then saw the bullethole in her head.
“I was shaking, my whole insides were shaking,” Larkins said.
Her niece in the meantime was calling “Steph, Steph, Steph,” as if to wake her friend.
“She’s gone, there’s nothing we can do,” Larkins said she told Sterling.
It became a blur after that, Larkins said.
Police said medics pronounced Dzikowski dead at 11:06 p.m.
Sterling said she could not sleep all night.
“When I close my eyes, I picture that,” she said.
In the close-knit neighborhood, Dzikowski was known as caring, loving mother, a friend with a sense of humor, and a woman who was determined to improve her lot in life.
She had a job a dental assistant and she and Sandonwicz had just signed a lease for a place of their own.
Hours after the shocking discovery, a memorial of flowers and candles took shape on the porch of the Dzikowski home.
“We’re all, just like, we don’t know who would do this,” Larkins said.