PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - With 96 homicides in all, it was a year somewhat on par with others in Allegheny County, but what's changed is that the deadly toll is moving out of the City of Pittsburgh and into the suburbs.
"This is the first time in our records that there have been more murders in the county than the city itself," Medical Examiner Karl Williams said.
Of those 96 homicides, 42 occurred in City of Pittsburgh compared to 54 in suburban Allegheny County. According to law enforcement, it's a sign that criminal elements are moving into untapped regions.
"These folks are moving out in the suburbs -- everybody's moving out in the suburbs and they're bringing some bad things with them," Williams said.
Many of those murders have occurred in the Mon Valley in towns like McKeesport. Towns that went downhill after the mills closed 30 years ago and have never come back.
While Wilkinsburg was second to Pittsburgh with 12 murders and both Penn hills and McKee's Rocks had five, the big spike in homicides came in the Mon Valley.
There were nine murders in McKeesport, four in West Mifflin, three in Duquesne and one in Rankin, where Police Chief Ryan Wooten said the valley has spawned a number of drug gangs who have been warring over turf.
"One of the factors is territorial. There's no doubt about it," Wooten said.
While the city of Pittsburgh has rebounded economically, the Mon Valley has not. Some blame the upsurge in violence as opportunity for young men.
"And they turn to the one thing's that available to them in poor areas like this and that's drugs," said Kareem Long of McKeesport.
"There's a ton of reasons why we're having more homicide in the suburbs than the city. A ton of them. Education, economics, we have it. The answer -- don't have it," Wooten said.
The problems are many and the answers are hard to come by, but these shootings and murders keep going up and show no signs of abating
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