Only 29 years old, Mylisha Jackson has experienced enough grief to last a lifetime. For her and many others living in McKeesport, the summer months are not a warm and fuzzy time, but a season when the homicide rate rises in the blink of the eye.
|IN CUSTODY—Suspect Deanthony Kirk is escorted to the Allegheny County police headquarters.
“Every year it’s getting worse. I think it’s progressing; it’s just increasing. My family has experienced loss every year and most of them are unsolved,” Jackson said. “I place blame on everyone. I don’t think anyone’s doing their part.”
In a span of eight days, from June 10 to June 18, there were five shooting incidents, including a McKeesport man shot in Wilkinsburg, leaving six dead and three more injured. Once again, Jackson was related to one of the victims.
“I really don’t believe any of the recent acts have been random at all.
I honestly think there are people who’ve seen things and aren’t coming forward. Some people just look at it as ‘oh well it was nobody I knew’,” Jackson said. “We need to find a way for more people to come forward with what they know. I think that’s something as a community they have to do. Or the police force has to give the ok to tell people it’s ok to talk. It’s perfectly understandable to be scared because no one wants retaliation.”
Most shocking for many McKeesport residents was a triple homicide during a party in Crawford Village. In the early hours of June 15, police were called to the housing development for a shooting that left three dead and one wounded.
|COMMUNITY EMBRACE—Eboni Sanders is comforted by others at a vigil June 18.
The victims in the shooting were Jahard Poindexter, 30; Angela Sanders, 23 and Tre Madden, 17. On June 18, police arrested suspects Isaiah Hereford, 17, and Deanthony Kirk, 19.
Police also arrested 28-year-old Wayne Beatty, from Wilmerding in connection to the other recent shooting in Crawford Village of Armenius Lee Nolan, 22, on June 18.
“We have nothing to indicate that they’re related. There was another home invasion on another street,” said Charles Moffat, Allegheny County Police superintendent. “I’d have to look and see if we can determine why the increase is occurring and as of right now we don’t have the answers to that. I have a hard time making sense out of any if not all murders.”
While these arrests have helped many residents to breath a little easier, others like Eboni Sanders, one of Poindexter’s sisters, thinks this might only be the beginning. Police do not believe the two Crawford Village shootings are related, but some in the community are drawing connections between the many recent shootings.
“From what I gather they went in there for a particular person and that’s all I can say. They got that particular person, but I don’t know why they hurt other people,” Sanders said. “They’re just running around with guns and just shooting. Picking up guns is just not the way to do it.”
Many in the community do not have the answer for how to end the violence. Some suggest the problem lies in parenting while others call for stricter gun control.
“Everyone from here in Pittsburgh to New York City can see what one gun can do to so many people. It hurts,” Sanders said. “I would like to see more gun rules, but I don’t know what can be done. The guns are going to get on the streets regardless.”
The Community Empowerment Association, a non-profit organization based in Homewood, has been reaching out to communities in the Mon-Valley in an effort to decrease the common thread of Black on Black violence in Allegheny County.
“The recent inhumane violence in the Mon Valley neighborhoods McKeesport and Duquesne offer a glimpse of what the summer in Allegheny County may look like if immediate intensive action is not forthcoming to address violence in our communities,” said CEA founder Rashad Byrdsong in a press release.
CEA will be hosting an emergency meeting on June 23 to address the recent tragedies. The rally will begin at 6 p.m. in Crawford Village.