Mother posts $3,000 reward for son’s killer

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Not content to sit back while the investigation into her son’s shooting moves on, Caren Wright opted to get the community’s attention by posting flyers, offering $3,000 for information leading to an arrest of the killer of her son, throughout Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods.

“The flyers have definitely gotten someone’s attention, because they are being torn down,” she said. “All around the bar where he was shot and along Frankstown. But I’m going to put more up. I guess I’ll just have to watch and see who’s doing it.”

Determination
DETERMINATION—Caren Wright says she will continue posting flyers offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to her son’s killer no matter how many are taken down. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

Wright’s son, Steven Daniels, 34, died after being shot multiple times outside the 30/30 Club on Frankstown Avenue July 15. Initially, police told the family they suspected robbery, which enraged Daniels’ brother, Leighton Tunnell, who said his brother was set up.

“He gets hit nine times and the guy next to him doesn’t get a scratch? He was set up,” said Tunnell. “We gave police everything. This guy called him 15 times that day begging him to come out to a party—and he never goes to Gandy’s (the 30/30 Club). And how can it be a robbery when nothing was taken? He still had his money, jewelry, and his phone.”

The Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney’s office, however, has since contacted Wright and assured her it is investigating the shooting, and following leads.

“Assistant District Attorney Mark Tranquilli told me he didn’t think we were out of line,” she said. “It’s just so painful waiting. It’s a strain because they took so much away from me. But it will not go unsolved.”

Both Wright and Tunnell said as far as they know, Daniels was not dealing drugs or doing anything else illegal. They said he didn’t have to.

“He was a very successful barber. He had his own custom cuts and was making $1,500-$2,000 a week,” said Tunnell. “He was at Mr. Pete’s shop on Rodi Road in Penn Hills. Before that he worked at Success Barbershop in Monroeville. He was a good guy, everyone liked him. I don’t know why anyone would want to kill him.”

Wright said her son had been in prison in North Carolina for bank fraud, but that when news of his death reached the prison, several inmates wrote to her saying how well liked he was and how sorry they were because “he didn’t belong here with the rest of us.”

“People sent letters and money from all over,” said Wright. “People came from California for the funeral, paid for the funeral, the urn, the reception. There were 700 people there.”

Tunnell was initially frustrated by the seeming lack of attention police paid to the man he think is responsible, especially after the phone call records he provided.

“They questioned him and let him go,” said Tunnell. “He was supposed to be a friend, but did he call an ambulance, did he call the family, did he come to the funeral? No.”

Wright said she plans to increase the reward to $5,000 when she receives an insurance settlement. She has also had discussions with Executive Director Valerie Dixon of the Prevent Another Crime Today Initiative to erect a billboard offering a separate $5,000 reward. Dixon said, contingent on funding, that is the plan.

“They can’t tear that down,” said Wright.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburgh­courier.com.)

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