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As Violence Continues To Spike On The South Side, Community Leaders Call For Change

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Community leaders and law enforcement are calling for change after two separate shootings in South Side on Friday.

Many people in the city are sick and tired of the violence, including Rev. Eileen Smith who is the executive director of the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace.

"So fed up, this was such an egregious crime, heartless, coldhearted," said Rev. Smith.

On Friday night around 6:45 p.m., 29-year-old Darian Simpkins from Homestead was shot and killed right in front of children who were playing football for the Southside Bears on Quarry Field in the South Side Slopes.

"It has to stop. We cannot have our children traumatized like this; fathers murdered in front of their children. We can't have this anymore," said Rev. Smith.

Early Friday morning around 1:30 a.m., three men were shot in the vicinity of South 18th and E. Carson streets.

All were three were hospitalized.

Surveillance video from Glassburgh Smoke Shop shows the moments gunshots rang out and crowds scattered quickly.

15-year-old Taiden Harvey from Clairton is facing a slew of charges, including criminal attempted homicide.

"A 15-year-old baby charged with attempted homicide, you know, where are the parents? Why is a 15-year-old out in the middle of the night, shooting?" said Rev. Smith.

Pittsburgh Police increased their efforts to prevent violence in the area.

Because of the chaos on E. Carson Street, there are more officers patrolling the area, and public safety put up more cameras and lights. The city also wants to change the traffic flow on the street.

"It's concerning with the level of violence that's going on in the city of Pittsburgh, the number of people that are carrying gun," said Chief Scott Schubert, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. "It has to stop."

On E. Carson Street on Saturday night, people still went to the bars and restaurants and others worked their night shifts.

But do patrons feel safe in that area?

"It's definitely concerning. I don't like being here that late as it is, especially with all the crazies and the drunks and the homeless and people driving, catcalling, and puking and drugs, it's just a lot. Especially with the shootings, it's scary," said Skylar Nehman, who works on the South Side.

The South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace is constantly trying to prevent shootings with grassroots efforts. The organization goes into communities and provides street violence intervention. Rev. Smith said they need more funds so they can get more peacemakers on the street.

"We're out there, we just don't have enough people out there to do the prevention peace, we know that street violence intervention does work and so we're out there, we're working overtime. My team is busy," Rev. Smith said.

Rev. Smith is planning an emergency stop the violence prayer rally and vigil as she and many Pittsburghers are pleading for people to stop pulling the trigger. The vigil will be at the Lighthouse Cathedral on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. She said everyone is welcome, including those affected by Friday's shootings.

"We're calling on faith leaders, community leaders, business leaders, prayer warriors, everyone, victims and survivors. We're inviting the parents to bring their children from the bears' football team. We will have crisis intervention specialists there to help them and to work with them. We are calling the community together, come out and let's stop this violence, enough," Rev. Smith said.

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