NV Twp. Posts Police, Fire Reports

June 30, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

During May, North Versailles Twp. police department received 890 calls, made 27 arrests and housed eight inmates from East McKeesport and nine from Turtle Creek, commissioners reported at their June 20 meeting.

Firefighters answered 40 calls during May.

Also at the June 20 meeting, commissioners voted to approve payments in the amount of $2,967.38 to West Wilmerding VFC from the 2018 Fire Tax Money and $27,886.35 for Crestas VFC from the 2018/2019 Fire Tax Money, Commissioner Russell Saula said.

The amount approved for Crestas VFC includes an annual loan payment for a fire truck in the amount of $24,835.33, according to Saula.

Commissioners voted 7-0 to approve $800 for the purchase of a camera to be placed in the dispatch center.


Volunteers Enhance MASD Weight Room, Courtyard

June 28, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Volunteers unpack new fitness equipment in the weight room at McKeesport Area High School. (All photos: Richard Finch Jr., special to Tube City Almanac)

McKeesport Area High School became the latest destination on the nationwide Team8 Tour this week, after volunteers with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and United Healthcare's “Do Good, Live Well” employee program gathered in the gymnasium to kick off the two-day event.

The weight room in the high school and the courtyard at Founders Hall Middle School were targeted for improvement. The Team8 Tour is a national campaign aimed at encouraging young people around the country to make healthy choices, build character and learn critical life lessons that will inspire them to be catalysts for positive social change, according to the foundation's website.

McKeesport Area School Superintendent Mark Holtzman Jr. credited baseball coach Ron Bishop with connecting the district to the program.

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School Board OK's 0.68-Mill Tax Increase on 6-2 Vote

June 28, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Above: Major Bryan Carson has been hired by McKeesport Area School District to teach the Air Force Junior ROTC program for 10 months, beginning July 1. His appointment was approved by the school board Wednesday. (Richard Finch Jr. photo, special to Tube City Almanac)

McKeesport Area School Board voted this week to approve a $69.1 million budget that includes a 0.68-mill property tax increase.

At their meeting Wednesday, school directors voted 6-2 to approve the spending plan for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

School directors David Donato and James Brown voted against the budget, and school director Mindy Sturgess was absent. Donato and Sturgess were absent during the 7-0 vote on the preliminary budget on May 22.

The tax increase takes the district's millage from 19.48 mills to 20.16 mills, and represents a $68 increase on a house assessed at $100,000. It's the second year in a row that McKeesport Area School District has raised its property tax rate.

Francis Weiss, a former MASD employee, told school directors the property tax increase is a burden for herself and other seniors living on a fixed income.

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Exhibit Uses Woodland Hills' Experience to Examine U.S. School Segregation

June 28, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements, Podcast

It's been 65 years since the Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision that forbid public schools from being segregated along racial lines.

Yet according to several national studies, U.S. schools are now more racially segregated now than at any time since the 1980s.

Last week on "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes," we talked to Katie Fuller, one of the curators of an exhibit currently at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, now through July 21. "Race and Revolution: Still Separate, Still Unequal" looks at school segregation in the northeastern United States --- including in the Mon Valley at Woodland Hills School District.

You can listen here.

"Two Rivers, 30 Minutes" airs Sundays at 8 a.m. on WEDO (810), 9:30 a.m. on The Pittsburgh Jazz Channel & WZUM (101.1/1550), 3 p.m. on WMCK.FM Internet radio, and as a free podcast whenever you like from our website at almanac.tubecityonline.com/podcast.


Parishes Announce Summer Festival at St. Angela Site

June 28, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements, White Oak News

(Photo courtesy St. Angela Merici Church via Facebook)

The four-parish grouping of St. Angela Merici, Corpus Christi, St. Patrick and St. Robert Bellarmine will hold its combined Summer Family Festival from 6 to 10 p.m. July 11, 12 and 13, a spokeswoman said.

The event will be held on the grounds of St. Angela Merici, 1640 Fawcett Ave, White Oak and include a flea market, super basket raffle, Kids’ Kingdom, card games, money wheels, midway games, bake sale, bingo and other activities.

The raffle will include a $2,000 first prize, a $1,000 second prize, or a $500 third prize with the purchase of a $2 ticket, the spokeswoman said.

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Chamber Hosts Economic Development Lunchtime Talk

June 25, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Lauren Byrne Connelly, assistant director for business innovation and technology in the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, will be the featured speaker during a "lunch and learn" session July 11 hosted by Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce.

Connelly will talk about small business and minority and women-owned business loans offered by the county.

The event begins at 11:30 a.m. in the IMS Room of Allegheny Intermediate Unit, 475 E. Waterfront Drive, Homestead. The cost is $25 for chamber members and $30 for non-members.

Registration is required and lunch will be provided, a spokesman said.

For more information or to register, call (412) 678-2450 or visit the website.


'Love, Loss' at MLT Explores Clothing's Role in Triggering Memories

June 25, 2019 |

By Bonnijean Cooney Adams | Posted in: Entertainment

Rehearsing for "Love, Loss, and What I Wore," a benefit to support McKeesport Little Theater, in front from left, are Nancy Batko and April Ohms. In back are Megan May, Lynne Franks, and Kendra McLaughlin. (Photo: Bonnijean Cooney Adams for Tube City Almanac)

If you go...


“Love, Loss, and What I Wore”

Where: McKeesport Little Theater, 1614 Coursin St.

When: 7:30 p.m. June 28 and 29; 2 p.m. June 30

Tickets: All seats are $15. Reservations at (412) 673-1100.

Sometimes the clothes we wore for a special occasion – the prom, our wedding, a funeral – or even that highly anticipated first date that turned out to be a total disaster – trigger memories long after the events themselves have faded.

When McKeesport Little Theater veteran Rose-Lorene Miller read the play “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” by Nora and Delia Ephron, based on a book by Ilene Beckerman, she insisted her friend Linda Baker read it, too.

Baker, who has been affiliated with the community theater in key roles for years, said she liked it so much that she proposed producing it as a benefit. The show runs Friday through Sunday, June 28-30.

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NVT Commissioners Approve $58K for Demolition of Five Structures

June 24, 2019 |

By Richard Finch Jr. | Posted in: North Versailles Twp. News

North Versailles Twp. officials are getting closer to tearing down five buildings as part of their 2019 demolition project.

In February, commissioners initiated the legal process and began to solicit quotes for asbestos inspections. Condemnation hearings were held April 25.

None of the owners appeared at the condemnation hearings and no one objected to the township recommendations to raze and condemn the structures, township solicitor Greg Evashavik said at the May 16 meeting.

Commissioners by 7-0 vote awarded a contract for $58,275 to DJ Demolition of Braddock to demolish five structures.

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UPMC, Highmark Reach 10-Year Deal on Hospital Access

June 24, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

UPMC McKeesport hospital (Tube City Almanac file photo)

Local officials and health care advocates are praising a deal that will give Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield customers access to UPMC hospitals and facilities for the next 10 years.

The agreement, brokered by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf, was announced Monday --- just a week before a consent decree between the two health giants was scheduled to expire.

Not all of the details were public, but a spokesperson for Shapiro said the deal --- reportedly the longest ever signed between UPMC and a health insurance company --- will cover all UPMC facilities.

State Sen. Jim Brewster of McKeesport called the agreement “excellent and welcomed news” that will relieve “tension and anxiety” for people with Highmark health insurance.

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City Man Charged With Homicide Following Police Chase

June 22, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A McKeesport man is charged with criminal homicide after police said he shot and killed someone who was dating his ex-girlfriend.

Marcus Acie-Griffin, 36, was arrested Saturday morning following a police chase through McKeesport and Dravosburg that ended with a crash in the Morton Plan section of West Mifflin.

The victim, Kaine A. Williams, 34, was pronounced dead late Friday night at the scene of the incident in the 1800 block of Sumac Street, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office said.

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Port Vue Woman Sentenced on Drug Charges

June 21, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A Port Vue woman has been sentenced to six years in federal prison for her role in a narcotics ring that moved large amounts of heroin from New Jersey to the Mon-Yough area, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said Thursday.

Krystle Barretto, 33, also faces four years' probation under the sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon in Pittsburgh. Barretto pleaded guilty to federal narcotics charges in February.

Prosecutors allege that along with her fiancee, Jarran Bell, 38, of Port Vue, Barretto was heard on wiretaps conspiring to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin.

Federal authorities allege that Barretto arranged for approximately 25,000 stamp bags of heroin to be transported from Paterson and Union, N.J., to the McKeesport area.

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White Oak Cleaning Up After Storm, Flood Damage

June 21, 2019 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: White Oak News

(All photos: Cami DiBattista, special to Tube City Almanac)

White Oak Borough was among the areas affected by Wednesday’s severe storm.

After the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for local counties, a storm passed through with produced a large amount of rain in a very short amount of time. The storm caused flooding in multiple areas along Lincoln Way which resulted in the road being temporarily closed in several places.

White Oak Animal Safe Haven, a no-kill shelter that has saved thousands of animals since its inception in 2003, was among the areas that were heavily affected when a small stream --- a tributary of Long Run creek --- overflowed its banks.

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Construction Worker Charged in Firearms Incident

June 20, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A Churchill man who was tearing down an abandoned house on Jenny Lind Street has been charged by McKeesport police with firearms violations.

Davon Parms, 45, faces a preliminary hearing Monday before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi Jr. in McKeesport on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, carrying a firearm without a license, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

He is currently free on his own recognizance.

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Health Department: Clairton Works Pollution Equipment Back Online

June 18, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Pollution-control equipment that removes sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide from emissions at U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant is back in operation, the Allegheny County Health Department said late Monday night.

In a prepared statement, a county spokesperson said the department was informed that two control rooms that were damaged by a fire Monday morning were returned to service.

"Accordingly, our inspectors will verify that all systems are back online (Tuesday) morning," the spokesperson said.

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Health Department Gives U.S. Steel 24-Hour Deadline

June 17, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

UPDATED with comments from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

The Allegheny County Health Department has given U.S. Steel 24 hours to develop a plan to reduce its emissions at the Clairton Plant.

If the company doesn't present that plan --- and then get pollution levels from the facility under permitted limits within 20 days --- the county will order U.S. Steel to shut down its coke ovens or face fines of $25,000 per violation, per day.

An emergency order signed by Jayme Graham, manager of the county's air quality program, was issued Monday (June 17) after a fire at the Clairton Plant damaged equipment that removes sulfur dioxide from the plant's emissions.

The order questions the effectiveness of U.S. Steel's emergency strategies to reduce emissions following an earlier fire on Dec. 24 that damaged the same pollution-control equipment.

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Emissions Equipment Off-Line After Fire at Clairton Plant

June 17, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant in a 2010 photo by Patrick Cain. (Via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0)

For the second time in six months, a fire has knocked out emissions-control equipment at U.S. Steel's Clairton Plant.

A company spokesman said that a small electrical fire was detected early Monday morning (June 17) in a circuit-breaker panel that delivers power to the byproducts facility at the plant. There were no injuries "and the fire was quickly extinguished," the company said in a prepared statement.

But the blaze knocked out processing equipment that removes sulfur dioxide emissions, the company said.

There are no specific precautions recommended for the public at this time, said Ryan Scarpino, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department.

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Summer Concert Series Begins Sunday With Vogues

June 15, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Chuck Blasko's Vogues kick off McKeesport's summer concert series at Renziehausen Park with a free show at 7 p.m. Sunday.

All of the concerts are held weather-permitting at the Lions Bandshell in Renzie, adjacent to Eden Park Boulevard. Visitors should bring a blanket or lawn chair.

Refreshments are available and members of the McKeesport Lions Club will be collecting gently used prescription eyeglasses that are redistributed to people who cannot afford them, a spokeswoman said.

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Opioid Prevention Workshop Rescheduled for July 24

June 15, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

A free community meeting to discuss opioid abuse and prevention has been rescheduled.

The event, which was to be held Thursday, has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 24 at Carnegie Library of McKeesport, 1507 Library Ave., a spokeswoman said.

The discussion will be led by members of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity at the University of Pittsburgh and will include information about treatment and recovery from opioid addiction, as well as a panel discussion and training on the use of naloxone, a drug that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

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Grand Opening Planned Saturday for Renzie Dog Park

June 13, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

City officials will celebrate the grand opening of a new dog park at Renziehausen Park on Saturday with a "leash-cutting" ceremony at 10 a.m.

Vendors with refreshments, dog licensing information and other items also will be available during the celebration scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the new facility, located near the Sulphur Springs access road, off Eden Park Boulevard at Palm Street.

The dog park's opening also will coincide with the first day of this summer's Renzie Farmers' Market, located behind No. 2 Fire Station.

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33 Charged as Drug Sweep Touches Mon Valley, East Suburbs

June 12, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News, Duquesne News

More than 30 people --- many from the Mon Valley --- were rounded up early Wednesday morning by FBI agents and local police and arrested on federal drug charges related to trafficking cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine and firearms.

In a prepared release, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady said a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has issued three separate, but related indictments which were unsealed this week.

Brady said that charged by federal prosecutors in a conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin, cocaine and crack between August 2018 and May of this year are:

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Celebration Will Mark Opening of New Machinist Training Center

June 12, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

Workers maneuver a lathe into a new training classroom at the former McKeesport Daily News Building. New Century Careers is holding an open house in the space on Thursday. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

Community members and elected officials are being invited to tour a space that will soon be used to train machinists for jobs in manufacturing.

New Century Careers is holding the open house and VIP reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation, 409 Walnut St. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

The Pittsburgh-based non-profit is offering its "quick-train" introduction to manufacturing curriculum in McKeesport for the first time.

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Letters to the Editor: 'Red-Light Cameras' Are a Cash-Grab

June 12, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Letters to the Editor

James Sikorski Jr. of Luzerne County writes regarding June 4's story, "$344K State Grant Will Fund City-Wide Safety, Traffic Improvements."

Sikorski is "Pennsylvania Advocate" for the "National Motorists Association," which describes itself as a "grassroots alliance of motorists joined together to protect our rights."

It should be noted that versions of this same letter have been sent to other publications around the state:

Sadly, the speed kills myth is alive and well in Pennsylvania. A real 25-state analysis was done of NHTSA data, which showed that 1.6 percent of crashes are caused by excessive speed. Barely above zero, then.

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'Yappy Happy Hour' Benefits White Oak Shelter

June 11, 2019 |

By Cami DiBattista | Posted in: Announcements, White Oak News

Above: White Oak Mayor Ina Marton enjoys the company of Luke and Chewie during the Yappy Happy Hour on Friday, which was organized by the White Oak Animal Safe Haven fundraising committee.

The event included puppy-friendly lattes and ice cream treats for humans provided by McFeely's Gourmet Chocolate.

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Library Posts Upcoming June Programs

June 11, 2019 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Healthy Snack: The library will mark "National Eat Your Vegetables Day" by serving free, healthy snacks from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. June 17 on the library grounds.

Reading Social: The Reading Social group will be viewing and discussing the PBS-TV American Masters presentation of "And Still I Rise," a biography of the late poet, activist, writer and playwright Maya Angelou. The discussion at 12:30 p.m. June 19 will meet at the library and is free and open to the public.

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People's Building Has a Buyer; New Owner Already at Work

June 06, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

(Tube City Almanac file photo)

McKeesport's historic People's Bank Building will likely have a new owner by the end of the month.

The mostly vacant 80,000-square-foot structure was transferred to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of McKeesport for $1 and is now under agreement to be sold to a new owner, said A.J. Tedesco, the city's community development director.

The buyer is Jonathan Stark, owner of Legion Arms and Compulsive Paintball, who also is developing a new commercial building on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street at the one-time site of the Memorial Theater.

"We have a lot of work to do," Stark said. "Lots and lots and lots of work to do."

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County Voters Invited to Test New Voting Machines

June 06, 2019 |

By Griffin Gordon | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

* CORRECTION: This story was corrected after publication.

With the presidential election of 2020 looming, Allegheny County officials are testing new kinds of voting machines.

The board of elections will hold a public meeting from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday (June 7) in the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse, downtown Pittsburgh, to discuss the options and hear from three experts regarding election security.

On Wednesday at CCAC South Campus in West Mifflin, residents got a chance to try different kinds of voting technology for themselves. The machines being demonstrated could be broken down into three basic methods: entirely paper ballots, entirely automated ballots, and hybrid ballots that combine paper and electronic systems.

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State's Second 'Laundromat Library' Coming to Olympia

June 06, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Pittsburgh's public television station and the Carnegie Library of McKeesport are teaming up to open the state's second "Wash and Learn" laundromat library at Olympia Shopping Center.

A celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon Friday (June 7) at the Olympia Coin Laundry in Versailles, said Colleen Rauschenberg Denne, executive director of the library. The event is open to the public.

In cooperation with WQED Multimedia, the Allegheny County Library Association, and the international charity Libraries Without Borders, the McKeesport library is installing bookshelves and wi-fi hotspots at the laundromat.

The library hopes that customers of the laundry “will be introduced to some of the resources the library has to offer and become regular library users," Denne said.

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Study: Hotel's Reuse Could Unlock Potential of City's Riverfront

June 05, 2019 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Conflict of Interest Note: The author has a conflict of interest. He is on the McKees Point Development Group. See previous coverage of this issue and the note at the end of this story.

An architect's rendering depicts the former Penn-McKee Hotel as part of a shopping and entertainment district attached to McKeesport's waterfront. (Nina Chase/Merritt Chase Architects via Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh)

(PDF reader required)

Up to $141 million in tourism money that could be spent in McKeesport is leaving the area, and at least part of that could be captured along the city's riverfront if the right attractions were in place.

That's according to a study of the area around the Penn-McKee Hotel that was done for city officials by the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh.

The report concludes that reusing the long-vacant hotel is "costly" but feasible, and recommends that funds be raised to mitigate environmental problems, prevent the building from further deterioration, and make it more presentable to investors.

The study was released Tuesday night during the regularly scheduled city council meeting and is available for viewing at the mayor's office.

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$344K State Grant Will Fund City-Wide Safety, Traffic Improvements

June 04, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Announcements

* CORRECTION: This story was corrected after publication.

Audible sensors for the sight-impaired will be added to this busy intersection with the help of a state grant. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)

McKeesport officials will create a traffic safety program to look for ways to improve pedestrian safety and reduce speeding and accidents in the city.

In addition, the busy intersection of Lysle Boulevard and Coursin Street --- where "near misses" between cars and pedestrians are frequent --- will get improved crossing signals, and the intersection of Versailles and Evans avenues will be entirely revamped.

The improvements are being funded in part through a $344,000 grant from the state's Automated Red-Light Enforcement Fund. The grant was announced last week by state Sen. Jim Brewster and state Rep. Austin Davis.

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Three Charged in Harrison Village Shooting Incident

June 04, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

(UPDATED after publication.)

Two people, including a 17-year-old, face charges after police say they opened fire on one another following a fight at the Harrison Village housing complex on Monday afternoon.

A third woman who is accused of giving a handgun to one of the shooters also faces charges, and Allegheny County police are looking for a fourth person who fled the scene.

A 22-year-old man whose name was not released was hospitalized with a leg wound, police said.

The shooting came 24 hours after Ciquann Dudley Jr., 17, of McKeesport was found shot dead in the 1300 block of Tube Works Alley, about two blocks away.

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City Teen Dead in Sunday Shooting

June 03, 2019 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A McKeesport teenager was found dead Sunday afternoon after a shooting in the city's Third Ward.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office said Ciquann Dudley Jr., 17, was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting in the 1300 block of Tube Works Alley.

Allegheny County police said he had been shot multiple times. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Friends and family said Dudley was a student at McKeesport Area High School. He is the second student killed in less than a month.

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