Woman, 64, dies after being shot at youth football game

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An unintended victim of a shooting Saturday at a youth football game at Pittsburgh Obama school in East Liberty died from her injuries Monday afternoon at UPMC Presbyterian.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office identified the woman as 64-year-old Charlene Walters. Police said Ms. Walters was shot in the stomach and shoulder when at least one gunman opened fire shortly after 10 a.m. during the homecoming game of the East End Raiders, a team of 7- to 9-year-olds.

Police said the target of the shooting was a 27-year-old Wilkinsburg man, who was shot in the chest and is in critical condition. He was involved in a dispute in Wilkinsburg the day before and went to the game to watch his 5-year-old son play.

A second unintended victim, a 34-year-old woman, was shot in the hand and has since been released from the hospital.

"Any parent should be able to attend a game their child is in and feel safe and feel their children can be safe," Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper said. "We are fortunate and blessed that no children were hit in the gunfire out there."

At a news conference Monday, the chief pledged a united front among league organizers, coaches and police to continue to enforce safety measures he set in place two years ago and ensure that the violence stops. This is the third shooting at a youth football game in the city in five years.

"We will work diligently to make sure the events around these games are safe and our children are safe," the chief said.

After a shooting in 2010 near a midget football game at Stargell Field in Homewood, Chief Harper began requiring coaches to hire police officers to work each game, submit to background checks and wear police-issued identification.

On Saturday, the two police officers hired to work the games were scheduled to arrive by 11 a.m., the chief said, and were not present at the time of the shooting. A spokesman for the leagues said they had never anticipated problems occurring earlier than that.

Organizers of the city's two youth football leagues said games will be consolidated to fewer locations and security measures will be increased next week. Police will arrive early, and an additional officer will work each event.

Chief Harper said one reason he isn't pushing the city to end youth football after Saturday's shooting is the community's response, which was in stark contrast to the Homewood shooting when he had to threaten to end the programs before witnesses provided names of the shooters.

This time, within 30 minutes of shots being fired from the bleachers, fans who had gathered to root for the children were providing tips to police. He said the information has led police to narrow their search for suspects and they hope to make arrests in the next few days.

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Taryn Luna: 412-263-1985 or tluna@post-gazette.com. First Published October 16, 2012 4:00 AM


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