PITTSBURGH – The city's mayor and police are bracing for possible retaliation after last week's ambush shooting at a cookout in neighboring Wilkinsburg that killed five adults and an unborn child.
A funeral for one of the victims was held Monday and the four other victims will be laid to rest at funerals on Saturday and Tuesday.
"This is the time when we usually see retaliatory crimes," Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said when asked about the shootings Tuesday at an unrelated news conference. "It's during the funerals or right after the funerals that these different cells start to go back and forth and fight."
That's why Pittsburgh has beefed up patrols in some areas that border Wilkinsburg, especially the crime-ridden neighborhood of Homewood. Investigators have said, generally, that bad blood between individuals in Homewood and those in Wilkinsburg might have prompted the shootings, without being more specific.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. has said a victim who remained in critical condition Wednesday, Lamont Powell, might have been the intended target, though his family has denied knowing why that may be.
Three cousins of Powell's, all siblings, were killed in the shooting, Jerry Michael Shelton, 35, Brittany Powell, 27, and Chanetta Powell, 25, as well as another cousin of theirs, Tina Shelton, 37. Brittany Powell lived at the home and hosted the cookout. Chanetta Powell was nearly eight months pregnant and her unborn child also was killed.
Another cousin, Shada Mahone, 26, was killed and buried Monday. Funerals for Jerry Shelton and his siblings are scheduled for Tuesday. Tina Shelton's funeral is on Saturday.
Nobody has been charged. One gunman with a pistol fired from an alley at the backyard gathering prompting the cookout guests to run toward a house for cover, where they were mowed down by another gunman with an assault rifle, investigators said.
Peduto said the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Walli Hardy on Monday at a house in Homewood doesn't appear to be related to the cookout ambush, but that's yet to be ruled out.
Cmdr. Jason Lando, who heads officers who patrol Pittsburgh's violent Zone 5 bordering Wilkinsburg, said the increased patrols aren't the result of any specific threat.
"We'd much rather be prepared for any potential retaliations than hopeful that there won't be any," Lando said.