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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A mother is facing charges in connection with the violent assault of her daughter’s elementary school teacher on the North Side.
KDKA’s Kym Gable reports that the suspect, 29-year-old Dai’Shonta Williams, was arraigned Thursday night on six charges: three counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of terroristic threats, stalking and reckless endangerment. She was unable to post the $50,000 bail and was taken to the Allegheny County Jail.
The incident allegedly started Wednesday when 46-year-old Janice Watkins, a teacher at Pittsburgh King PreK-8 School, confiscated a cell phone from a fourth grade girl. The district has a no cell phone policy.
While confiscating the phone, the child allegedly bit Watkins. As a result, Williams was called to the school.
During a meeting between the Williams, Watkins and the student, the child claimed Watkins had choked her. Williams became agitated at how the situation was being handled and allegedly stated, “She [Watkins] is going to get it later.”
Later, investigators say Watkins was driving home along Ohio River Boulevard. While sitting in traffic on the West End exit off-ramp, she noticed a black male and female get out of their vehicle. Watkins’ driver’s side window was down as she was speaking to her mother on the phone.
KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti Reports —
The woman approached Watkins’ car and allegedly threw a brick through the open window. Watkins was struck in the head. She said after she was hit, the woman opened her door, dragged her out in the road and began punching and kicking her.
The man and woman then fled the scene.
When police arrived, Watkins was able to identify the female suspect as Williams. After speaking with officers, Watkins was taken to the hospital to be treated for facial injuries. She also lost a tooth in the incident.
KDKA’s Marty Griffin spoke with the victim’s husband, who is also a Pittsburgh teacher. He said he’s worried for his wife and family’s safety.
“Sad and disappointed that people would go to such lengths against another human being over something so petty,” the victim’s husband, who does not want to be identified, said.
KDKA’s Marty Griffin Reports —
He says his wife is in a lot of pain, is having severe headaches and may have a concussion, but they feel lucky because things could have been much worse. She was back in the hospital Thursday.
Griffin: “Your wife, how is she emotionally right now?”
Watkins’ Husband: “Pretty good. Under the circumstances, pretty good. Right now, she just wants the pain to go away so she can continue living life.”
Griffin: “So, she has missing teeth?”
Husband: “It was actually one of her molars in the back, got cracked, and she has a bloody lip. Her face was numb, she has lumps all along her forehead and all along the side of her face. It’s not disfiguring, but it shouldn’t be there. It was caused by somebody else doing something crazy.”
Griffin: “Can she forgive this woman?”
Husband: “We’re very forgiving people. I would imagine she can forgive her.”
Griffin: “Does she go back to this school and teach?”
Husband: “I don’t know. We really don’t know, not yet, we’ll see.”
Griffin: “In a way, does she feel lucky? She could have been killed.”
Husband: “She definitely understands that, and that’s one of the things that brings up so much emotion.”
He also described the series of events at the school that led to the assault.
“There was another teacher who was trying to get the cell phone. The little girl ran away from her, and my wife was run into and grabbed the phone off of the little girl, saying that she was going to take the phone to the office as per their procedure. And the little girl immediately starting cursing at her and bit her on her arm,” he said.
The Pittsburgh Public School District released a written statement on Thursday, saying it was deeply troubled by what happened.
“Violence of any kind against a PPS staff member or citizen is unacceptable, and the individuals responsible must be held accountable for such horrifying behavior.”
They say they are cooperating with the Pittsburgh Police investigation, and wish Watkins well in her recovery.
“Our thoughts are with the teacher who was injured in yesterday’s incident, and we wish her a full and speedy recovery.”
On Thursday, officers attempted to locate Williams at her home in the 2800-block of North Charles Street. While driving up the road, an officer spotted Williams sitting on a set of stairs.
KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti went to the house on Thursday afternoon. A woman who answered the door said she was Williams’ friend, but didn’t want to comment.
“I understand where you guys are coming from. I’m not upset, I’m not angry that you guys are here, but I just, on behalf of my friend, I can’t speak for her,” the woman said.
Williams told police she believed the school police did not take appropriate action regarding her daughter’s claim that Watkins choked her.
KDKA’s Lisa Washington Reports —
Williams said she went to Zone 1 police with her boyfriend to file a report.
When police asked Williams if anything happened on the way home from the Zone 1 police station, she allegedly sighed and stated, “I ain’t gonna lie, I did it.” Williams said she followed Watkins from the school to the West End Bridge exit. She denied throwing a brick at Watkins, but said she did punch her in the face.
Blaine Jones, Williams’ attorney, said he met with family members on Wednesday night, but had not yet seen the police report in full by Thursday afternoon.
“I have to be patient. That’s one side. There are two sides to every story,” Jones said. “I’d like to talk to Ms. Williams and get her side of it. Ms. Williams didn’t have the chance to write anything down. So I’d like to get her side of it and go from there.”
A preliminary hearing for Williams is scheduled for Nov. 2.