The cold-blooded killings of 55-year-old Kimberly Lesko and her 52-year-old sister Melody Lesko in Melody’s Gross Street home, Sept. 2, bring McKeesport’s homicide total for the year to 11.

In 2015, the city had a total of 11—for the entire year.

So, these most recent killings put the city on pace to post its highest homicide total in at least more than 16 years. It is already the highest number for any municipality in Allegheny County outside the City of Pittsburgh.

It breaks my heart to see people losing their lives so senselessly in my city, and it is because I grew up here; we have to stop looking at this as a race thing. It’s a humanity thing.”
V. FAWN WALKER MONTGOMERY
McKeesport City Councilwoman
“I don’t remember the number being that high for a long time—and we’re not even to the end of the year,” said Councilwoman V. Fawn Walker-Montgomery. “It breaks my heart to see people losing their lives so senselessly in my city, and it is because I grew up here; we have to stop looking at this as a race thing. It’s a humanity thing.”

Rev. Christine Pope Portis, and members of her True Vine Ministries congregation, hold prayer vigils throughout the city every week at the locations of the city’s homicides. Now, they have another site they must visit—where the Lesko sisters, who, by all accounts, were quiet women who kept to themselves, were fatally shot, and a male guest was wounded.

“It’s horrendous,” said Pope. “We talked about it in church—and how many that makes this year. I don’t even have a word for it. A lot of the congregation wants to do more, but who can prevent an individual from doing that kind of thing. We can pray and we can talk to people on the street—and that’s what we’re doing.”

Walker-Montgomery said while the fact that seven of the 11 homicide victims have been Black is a major concern, it should not dominate the discussion.

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