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'Senseless': North Side, South Side shootings prompt passionate plea from Mayor Ed Gainey, police and community leaders

Shootings prompt passionate plea from Mayor Gainey, police and community leaders
Shootings prompt passionate plea from Mayor Gainey, police and community leaders 02:46

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Mayor Ed Gainey, Pittsburgh police Commander Richard Ford and community leaders made an emotional plea to people living in the city to do their part to help end gun violence after deadly weekend shootings on the North Side and South Side.

"I know somebody knows something," Mayor Ed Gainey said. "I couldn't imagine coming home and not having a mother no more, that my mother was lost to violence. I couldn't imagine what that feels like – four kids that don't have a mom on some senseless shooting over some argument that automatically ended up in gunplay. I wouldn't know, nor would I ever want to know what that would feel like. There's no reason that anybody should want those type of killers on the street."

Mayor Gainey started a news conference late Monday morning by sending his condolences to the families of two women killed in the shooting on the North Side.

Web Extra: Mayor Ed Gainey addresses weekend gun violence 04:28

Those two women were innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire, police said. Betty Averytt, 59, was found shot to death in Allegheny Commons East Park. Jacquelyn Mehalic, 33, was found shot at a bus stop. She was rushed to a nearby hospital and later died.

Police were called to Cedar Avenue on Saturday night on a ShotSpotter report of 20 rounds fired. It started as an altercation in the parking lot of the Sunoco gas station and lead to gunfire between at least two shooters, Ford said.

In addition to the women, one man died and another man was shot in the leg. Investigators have spoken to a person of interest, Ford said.

Just a few hours later, on the South Side, police said another argument escalated into a shooting at S. 14th and E. Carson Streets. A man was shot in the chest and rushed to the hospital.

Like Gainey, Ford said he is asking for those with details on the shootings to come forward. He said police cannot fight this kind of violence alone.

"We're part of the solution, not the entire solution," he said. "Something is wrong with our system when we have people who can continually go outside and perpetrate more violent crimes, and we, as police officers, can only control one aspect of that. I'm seeing too many cases where they're back on the street. When I see innocent people killed as a result of that, that makes me mad."

"I'm tired of seeing young geniuses and people who could have had a life not here right now," Pittsburgh Police Outreach Coordinator Cornell Jones said.


Earlier this year, there was another mass shooting at an Airbnb party on Easter morning. It was blocks away from this weekend's latest mass shooting.  

"So many guns, and no one knows where they're coming from. Something's wrong with that picture," Mayor Gainey said.  

At this point, police do not have a description of any suspects in this weekend's shooting. Investigators feel someone knows something. They are asking for those people to come forward.  

Gainey and other city leaders like Councilman Bobby Wilson, who represents the North Side, said a gun problem doesn't help this situation. They say too many guns are in the wrong hands and when these fights escalate, it has deadly consequences.  

Gainey said Shuman Center should not have been closed without a plan. He did not provide many details but said city leaders are actively working to find a solution.

"We have an Allegheny County system that has no juvenile detention center and there's no plan b," said Ford.

In a recent KDKA Investigates report on problems with the local juvenile detention system, one district justice said he had just signed a warrant for a juvenile who'd been arrested seven times with a gun and released every time.

"Something's wrong with the system when I sign an arrest warrant for a juvenile for the seventh time for carrying a gun," said Judge Eugene Ricciardi. "There's a breakdown somewhere and it needs to be corrected." 

Gainey said there should've been a plan in place before the closure of Shuman and he's now in talks with the county and the state about reopening the facility. 

"We're going to work with the county and the state to get this juvenile detention center," said Gainey. "I'm not going to place blame or throw anyone under the rug. I'm going to look to see what we have to do to reopen Shuman Center."

The county has just put out a request to anyone who wants to redevelop or operate the center and the mayor says there may be an announcement soon, but for police and the community, it couldn't come too soon.

Duquesne leaders discuss efforts to curb violence 01:24
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