Jonathon Walker, the Buffalo native accused of killing his girlfriend, one of their two daughters and his girlfriend’s mother in their Queens home Saturday before committing suicide, worked and lived for his family, one of his best friends recalled Sunday.
“He was a family guy dedicated to his girlfriend and two daughters,” Hodari Mallory said from his home in Illinois near St. Louis.
“He was a good guy and a good friend. This is totally out of character for him.”
Mallory, who played on the McKinley High School basketball team with Walker in 1997-98, said he spoke regularly with his 34-year-old friend, who worked as a nightclub bouncer and security guard.
“There were no signs that anything like this was going to happen,” he said, calling the fatal shootings an unspeakable tragedy. “I’m still trying to get my head around this.”
He described Walker; his girlfriend Shantai Hale, 31; and their daughters, Kayla, 7, and Christina, 12, as an ideal family. “They both worked hard for their daughters,” he said.
The 6-foot-6-inch Walker, who had played center on the McKinley team, was known as “the gentle giant,” his friend said.
“He was always upbeat and could make you feel happy when you were down,” Mallory said.
Hale, Kayla and Hale’s mother, Viola Warren, 62, were all fatally shot in the head, according to police.
Christina also was shot in the head but survived. She was taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, where she was in critical but stable condition, police said.
The shooting started shortly after Walker returned home at 5:38 a.m. He moved between the upstairs bedrooms and shot each of the four victims with a .45-caliber handgun, police said. Christina reportedly called 911 after the shootings and managed to get downstairs to open the door for police.
After the shootings, police said, Walker then drove his silver GMC Acadia from the two-family home in the Brookville neighborhood near Kennedy Airport, to a remote area about six miles away where he used the same gun to shoot himself in the head as he sat in the car.
Walker had called his brother in Las Vegas after shooting his family and told him: “What I did, I cannot come back from,” according to Robert K. Boyce, chief of detectives for the New York Police Department.
A motive for the fatal shootings has not been disclosed.
Mallory, 34, said Walker graduated from McKinley in 1998, then played basketball at Daemen College. He also played professional basketball in Portugal for two years before returning to New York and settling down to raise a family. Mallory said he believed that Walker has two other brothers, besides the one in Las Vegas.
A Daemen spokeswoman said Walker transferred there in 2001 from an unidentified college and that he attended classes and played on the basketball team at Daemen until 2003 but did not graduate.