Police search for shooters in Pittsburgh-area execution-style murders
PITTSBURGH -- Police in western Pennsylvania were searching Thursday for two suspects who ambushed a backyard party near Pittsburgh the previous night, killing five people execution-style and wounding three others.One gunman armed with a 40-calib...
PITTSBURGH - Police in western Pennsylvania were searching Thursday for two suspects who ambushed a backyard party near Pittsburgh the previous night, killing five people execution-style and wounding three others.
One gunman armed with a 40-caliber handgun shepherded victims from the home’s yard toward an alley where a second gunman armed with “an AK-47 type” rifle shot them in the head, said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.
“The murders were planned, calculated, brutal,” said Zappala.
The motive for the fatal shooting of four women and one man in a residential neighborhood of Wilkinsburg, about 8 miles east of the city, was still unknown, but authorities were exploring whether it might be drug-related, Zappala said.
In addition to the five killed, one of whom was pregnant, three people were wounded. Two males remain hospitalized in critical condition, officials said.
A 41-year-old woman who was wounded was treated and released from a local hospital, according to a hospital spokesman.
The people who died ranged in age from 25 to 37 years old, officials said, though family members said the oldest fatality was 38. Three of the five who died were siblings.
One of the dead, Tina Shelton, was a mother of five who held down three jobs and was encouraged by family members to attend the barbecue as a way to relax after work, her father Vernes Pugh and other relatives told local station WPXI-TV.
After gunning down their victims, the suspects fled, police said in a statement. Four died on the back porch next to the alley, while another woman died at a hospital, police said.
The massacre in Wilkinsburg, a borough of about 15,000 mostly lower and middle-income residents, is the latest in a series of mass shootings that have made gun control a matter of heated debate in the United States.
“Wilkinsburg is a community filled with grief, shock and anger this morning,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a statement Thursday.
The shooting generated more than 10,000 messages on Twitter, with many expressing outrage over gun violence.
“Woke up to the terrible news about the Wilkinsburg shooting,” U.S. congressman Mike Doyle, who represents the Pennsylvania district that includes Wilkinsburg, tweeted. “My prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.”