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Three Dead as More Violence Shakes City

Investigators say separate incidents were not related; mayor calls for community-wide response

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
March 01, 2023
Posted in: Crime and Police News

(Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as necessary)

Schools went on lockdown and police from across Allegheny County streamed into the city Wednesday afternoon after two separate shootings in different neighborhoods left three people dead and another hospitalized.

Just after 12 noon, a 47-year-old man was shot to death near a store in the 3100 block of Versailles Avenue, emergency personnel said. Less than an hour later, as police were investigating the first incident, three people were shot in the Crawford Village housing development, according to police.

One man, 22, died in the second incident, while a second victim of that shooting, age 30, died later at a hospital.

Police do not believe the shootings were related and said there is “no threat to the general public.”

The latest deaths make five homicides in the city since Jan. 1.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko called the incidents “senseless” and said the solution to the violence goes beyond adding more law enforcement to the streets.

“This impacts every person in our community, and we need to pull together in search of a solution to this violence,” Cherepko said. “The hostility and bloodshed in our world today — not just here in the City of McKeesport — is more than a policing issue. It is a community issue, and that community is made up of every single one of us.”

The McKeesport Area High School campus, including Founders’ Hall Middle School, went on exterior lockdown following the incidents, along with Twin Rivers Elementary, which is not near the shooting locations.

Dismissal for the high school and Founders’ Hall was delayed approximately 10 minutes, while Twin Rivers dismissed school at its usual 3:15 p.m. time, though the district warned that the continued police presence near Crawford Village and Versailles Avenue might delay transportation for some students.

Allegheny County police said the Versailles Avenue incident was reported at 12:08 p.m. Emergency personnel discovered a 47-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the head. The vicitm was transported to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead, police said. Homicide detectives initiated an investigation.

As police were on the scene, a second shooting was reported near Building 50 at Crawford Village in the city’s East End. Emergency personnel found three adult males suffering from gunshot wounds.

County police said a 22-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene, while a 30-year-old man was transported to a hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the chest, and an 18-year-old man was transported to an hospital in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the leg.

The 30-year-old died at a hospital of his injuries, county police said just before 6 p.m.

Detectives said in a prepared release that the shootings are not connected and that there is no known threat to the general public.

Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to call the County Police tip line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.

Wednesday’s incidents follow several recent shootings that have led the McKeesport unit of the NAACP to convene a series of meetings on curbing handgun violence.

The third meeting was to have been held on Tuesday night, but was postponed due to WPIAL basketball playoff games in which both McKeesport Senior High School teams were competing.

A report last year from the Allegheny County Department of Human Services said that after several years of declining homicide rates, the number of murders across the county increased 27 percent from 2019 to 2021.

Firearms were used in 86 percent of those homicides, the county said, and they are disproportionately concentrated in Pittsburgh’s eastern neighborhoods, Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, and the Mon Valley, including McKeesport, the county’s report said.

The violence is closely linked to poverty rates in those neighborhoods, the report concluded.

State and county law-enforcement agencies have been assisting McKeesport police and other municipalities for more than a year in an attempt to reduce gun violence.

Cherepko on Wednesday urged residents and community organizations to continue to work together to address the problem.

“Changing the circumstances that lead to these shootings — and curbing what I believe is an addiction to crime and violence — will only happen if we work together,” the mayor said. “That means coming together in our neighborhoods, our households, our churches, our community organizations and all of the places where we become united as a community.”

Originally published March 01, 2023.

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