Homicides might have dipped slightly, but gun violence is up across Pittsburgh this summer | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Homicides might have dipped slightly, but gun violence is up across Pittsburgh this summer

“We have some portions of our city that are very volatile relative to gun violence.”

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Davis often worries about her children and others in the neighborhood, where she says they are being pressured or forced to join an ecosystem where arguments quickly turn to violence. 

“What they’re doing is they’re preying on the meek,” Davis says. “As soon as they step outside, people are shooting at them. Right now, some of them haven’t picked up a gun yet, but if people are shooting at them, it won’t be long before they go out and get a gun.”

Throughout the summer, City Paper reporters often struggled to find people willing to talk about gun violence in their communities. The families of the victims killed in these shootings were also often unwilling to come forward.

“They are afraid because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Andre Scott, a former Hill District resident, currently living in Wilkinsburg, who has known several of this summer’s victims. “People are becoming somewhat numb to it. [They think], ‘This happened, I’m going to mourn, then I’m going to post on Facebook and be done with it.’”

His own cousin was shot and killed four weeks ago in Rankin, a Pittsburgh suburb also struggling under the weight of gun violence. 

“Death has definitely been on my doorstep this summer,” says Scott. “It’s disheartening.” 

Like Davis, Scott says the majority of the shootings this summer have been caused by disagreements. He also says several have been the result of attempted robberies gone wrong.

“Shooting is the first option now,” says Scott. 

Activists often talk about how the lack of economic opportunities in the African-American community has lead to the increase in violence. But those living in these communities say that nowhere has that been more apparent than in the number of shootings that have involved robberies.

“It’s more, ‘I see you getting money. I want to take what you have and either you let me or you don’t,’” says Scott. 

But without guns, Scott says, many of this summer’s deaths might not have happened. On Sept. 2, police say, a 22-month-old baby was shot and killed in Fineview’s Allegheny Dwellings apartment complex, allegedly by Harrison Marshman, the boyfriend of the boy’s mother. Police say the suspect claims the shooting was an accident.

“There’s so many random acts. Twelve-year-olds with guns, 14-year-olds with guns,” says Scott. “One of the young men who got killed more recently … was in the back seat adjusting the gun in his waistband and shot his friend in the front.” 

 In August, the police bureau announced that they were reorganizing the robbery and homicide squads into one Violent Crime Unit in an effort to better combat violence throughout the city. That reorganization is underway and should be fully in effect by Sept. 15.

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