Family raising money for child of Garner mother shot and killed in Johnston County

Family members and friends of a mother who was killed last weekend in Johnston County are raising money for her family.

Emily Steinhoff James, 44, was fatally shot Sunday night in Smithfield while accompanying her sister to pick up her sister’s 14-month-old son from his father in a custody exchange.

She leaves behind her husband, Chris, and their infant son, Miles, according to a GoFundMe online fundraiser.

“Emily James will be dearly missed by her family, friends, and various communities across the United States,” the GoFundMe reads. “Emily is a wife, mother to Miles, sister, daughter, friend, nurse, army veteran, lawyer, actress, clean beauty advocate, performer, writer, and the list goes on.”

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office says Dorian Thomas, 50, shot James one time. He is charged with murder and being held in Johnston County jail without bail.

Authorities have not released further details. A Johnston County spokesperson told The News & Observer that the Sheriff’s Office is not releasing recordings of 911 calls in the incident pending further investigation.

The money raised on GoFundMe will help pay for expenses for her son Miles, who has autism and special needs.

The N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence has recorded 14 homicides related to domestic violence in 2024, according to its website.

James was an Army veteran, a registered nurse and an attorney, according to a biography on the Raleigh Little Theatre’s website.

She was an assistant stage manager for the “Three Little Birds” musical and for the African American Cultural Festival at the Raleigh Little Theatre.

James graduated from a directing and stage management workshop at Raleigh Little Theatre last June, according to the theater’s website.

“Emily’s light shined so brightly, both on and off the stage, and we are so fortunate she found her way to RLT back in 2017,” the theater company said on social media. “She put her whole heart into everything she did, and her infectious energy and compassionate spirit inspired everyone around her. Words fail to convey how deeply we are going to miss her.”