Prayer, songs and sorrow marked the one-year anniversary of the ambush shooting that claimed the lives of five adults and an unborn child at a backyard barbecue.
In addition to the candles held by the 40 or so neighbors and friends who came in remembrance, candles were lit on a table for each of the victims: Jerry Shelton, 35, Tina Shelton, 37, Brittany Powell, 27, Shada Mahone, 26, Chanetta Powell, 25, and her unborn son, Demetrius.
Lakeesha Harris, a cousin, said she wants everyone to continue to pray for the families. “It was important for me to be here, “ she said. “It was a beautiful turnout, and the message is ‘We Shall Overcome.’”
Though it has been a year, Jessica Shelton—mother of three of the victims—was too distraught to attend. In a short statement released to WPXI-TV, she said she cannot focus on that day.
“I just want (to) let my children RIP. (I) don’t want to focus on that horrible day. I appreciate all that want to tribute to March 9, but that day changed my whole life. Knowing that I won’t have my children with me from that day on, (I) don’t want my grandchildren to remember what took place on that day.”
What took place was, in the words of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, “an execution,” that was “planned, calculated and brutal.”
The victims were among about 15 people who were enjoying a cookout in the backyard of a home on Franklin Avenue when Cheron Shelton and Robert Thomas allegedly approached from the rear of the yard and an adjacent alley and began shooting. Prosecutors suspect the target was Lamont Powell—unrelated to the victims—who survived the ambush.