YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Cierra Morris and her father, Leroy Morris, were shot and killed at a home on W. Judson Street in Youngstown February 29 in what police are calling a domestic dispute. Now their family is trying to cope with the loss of their loved ones.
“She didn’t deserve this…She really didn’t deserve this and, I mean, just the cowardly act,” said Cierra’s oldest brother, Justin Rogers.
Cierra’s mother, Donna, was at the home at the time of the shooting. She did not want to go on camera, but she did describe the moments the lives of her daughter and husband were taken.
She said she was in her bedroom when she heard Cierra arguing with a man in the living room. Then she heard gunshots.
In an attempt to protect his daughter, LeRoy rushed to the living room, where he was shot three times in the chest.
But it didn’t end there. The gunshots continued.
In the midst of gunfire, Donna rushed into the living room and grabbed her 5-year-old granddaughter, who she says was sitting on the couch, yelling, “My dad is shooting my mom!”
Donna took her to the bedroom and locked the door.
Cierra was shot more than 17 times.
“Even after 17 shots, she still was alive,” Rogers said.
Cierra fought for her life, making it from the living room to the kitchen, then to a stairwell, where she would lay until paramedics arrived.
“I had to stand out there and I had to watch them get dragged out on the stretcher,” said Kodie Johnson, Cierra’s brother.
Johnson was on his way home from the gym when he pulled up to find police and ambulances outside of his home.
“She recognized who I was and tried to reach out to me and put her hand out,” he said.
Cierra and LeRoy were taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital, where they both died as a result of their injuries.
Rogers said this was a senseless act of violence.
“I feel so disrespected that this person felt — I can’t even call him a man — that he felt comfortable enough to come in here in the middle of broad daylight, in your home where you’re supposed to feel safe.”
Two of LeRoy’s friends since childhood said he was a great man, which was displayed when he gave his life trying to protect his baby girl.
“I love you and Cierra, I will always love you. You will always be in my heart and my soul. Rest in peace brother, I know you’re looking down on us,” said LeRoy’s friend and Cierra’s godfather, Edward Favors.
“We’ll see you again. Keep the light on,” said childhood friend Todd Glover.
Thirty-year-old John Brunner, III, the father of Cierra’s daughter, has been arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated murder.
Audrey Walker, with the Sojourner House, said domestic violence leading to death is something the Youngstown area is seeing too much of.
“It happens a lot. It happens more than people think. You know, I like to inform the victims when they come to us that this is very serious.”
Walker said a child witnessing domestic violence oftentimes may be affected in the short- and long-term.
Donna said they are already actively working to make sure Cierra’s daughter, who witnessed the shooting, is being cared for and treated.
Rogers said it is important to speak out against this type of violence.
After this sudden tragedy, the victims’ family is now looking to the community for help.
“We have an account set up at any Home Savings and Loan in care of Donna Morris for the memorial funds. So if anybody, you know, wanted to contribute that way, they can go into any location and just ask to make a donation,” said Linda Long, Cierra’s cousin.
The family has also placed donation jars in different stores around the city.
Anyone who may be experiencing any form of domestic violence can find help by calling the Sojourner House’s 24-hour hotline at 330-747-4040. You can also contact them on their website.