An unborn baby boy became the 6th victim of the Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania mass shooting on Wednesday.
Police say two gunmen opened fire at a backyard cookout, killing 5 adults — 4 women and one man — at 1304 Franklin Avenue. 2 men remain in critical condition at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh. One woman was treated and released.
The deceased victims are identified as siblings Chanetta Powell, 25, Brittany Powell, 27, and Jerry Michael Shelton, 35, and their cousins Tina Shelton, 37, and Shada Mahone, 26. Chanetta Powell was 8 months pregnant with a baby boy. The family dog was also killed.
It was a nice day for a cookout on Wednesday night. The weather was unseasonably warm for March. The victims — about 15 family members and friends — gathered in the backyard of Brittany Powell’s home to play dominoes, drink beer and eat barbecue.
Police say two unknown assailants approached the backyard from different directions.
One gunman approached on Hazel Way, the alley at the rear of the backyard. Without warning, he opened fire on the gathering with a .40 caliber handgun. The shots sent the panicked party guests scrambling toward the house.
The ‘X’ on the above photo marks the spot where a 2nd assailant stood behind a chain link fence at the side of the house, less than 10 feet away from the back door.
The 2nd gunman sprayed the victims with a Russian style AK-47 assault rifle as they rushed up the steps onto the tiny back porch. He aimed high, with ruthless precision, hitting all of the victims at least once in the head.
4 of the dead were found in a pile on the back porch. 3 children inside the house were unharmed, according to the Post-Gazette.
“[The victims] were herded there on the porch. It was just horrible,” said federal agent Chris Taylor, whose agency is assisting local police with the investigation.
“They funneled them onto the porch and then just lit them up,” Agent Taylor told the Post-Gazette. “It was like a military [operation]… Then once the first guy died, he blocked the door and the girls were stuck on the porch and buh-buh-buh-buh, they’re all down there behind him. Thank God the kids were all right.”
Investigators found 49 shell casings at the scene. 31 shots were fired from the AK-47 and 18 from the handgun.
Agent Taylor said the “cheap” high powered rifle caused the most damage to the bodies. He counted 50 bullet holes in one woman’s body (entry and exit wounds).
“I’m getting shot with everything you’re getting shot with,” he said, describing the gory details. “When you’re only 5, 6 feet away, the bullets are going through three people, they were so close. That’s why law enforcement [officers carry] ammo that stops in people. We don’t want to shoot somebody and it goes through people.”
Police are reviewing grainy surveillance footage from the area which shows 2 men approaching the house on foot. Afterwards, the same 2 men are seen leaving the area.
“I lost three children and two nieces,” said Jessica Shelton during a news conference Thursday at the Lighthouse church in Mount Oliver on Thursday. Shelton was the mother of Jerry Michael Shelton, Brittany Powell and Chanetta Powell. She said the other two victims were her nieces.
Shelton said she attended the family gathering at Brittany’s house on the fateful day. She said she left the cookout about 9 p.m. A friend called her and told her about the massacre after watching a report on the 11 p.m. news.
Shelton recalls seeing three men arrive at the cookout earlier that evening. She said one of her daughters greeted the three men as they arrived. Shelton said she didn’t recognize two of the strangers who both identified themselves as “Ace.”
She was suspicious that the three men escaped the backyard slaughter unharmed.
Her son, Lamont Powell, remains in critical condition in ICU. He was shot 4 times in the neck, chest, lower back and hand. He is scheduled for more surgery on Friday.
Police believe Powell was the intended target of the gunmen. They are working on the theory that the murderers were sent to the cookout to avenge the death of another man in Pittsburgh several years ago. Powell was a suspect in that homicide case.
Brittany Powell’s daughter, Tamorroa, 7, and Chanetta Powell’s children, 8-month-old Chloe and Jaron, 6, survived the massacre.
Shelton said her grandson, Jaron, told her “I saw Mommy and a man on the ground, so I ran upstairs.” Ms. Shelton recalled her grandson saying “He didn’t want the bad men to get him.”
I’m just heartbroken today,” Shelton said tearfully. “I got a son in the hospital fighting for his life in critical condition. I can’t imagine losing four [children]. It’s just not right for me to lose four. To lose two beautiful nieces, it just breaks my heart.”
The ATF is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-283-4867
This Is devastatingly sad and sickening. How can we continue to yell black lives matter, when as a people we don't even give a damn about ourselves collectively enough for that to be a powerful enough slogan. #AllLivesMatter starting with yours and enen