Hill District shooting victim was 3rd McKeesport student killed in year

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Family members recall Dejour Gadsden as the life of the party, a budding artist and a sharp dresser who laughed often with a memorable smile.

His death Saturday also marks a troubling statistic: He is the third high school student from McKeesport killed in a homicide this school year.

"Unfortunately, this isn't the first time we've had to address an issue like this," McKeesport High School principal Mark Holtzman Jr. said of Dejour's death Monday.

On March 29, Kellcy Thomas, 18, was killed in McKeesport. Emmanuel White, 16, was shot there Nov. 29 and died four days later.

As of Monday, no arrests have been made in the death of Dejour, 17, who was a junior at the district's cyber school.

Shawnese Gadsden said that in the last moments she spent with her son Saturday evening, they joked about him gifting her a car for Mother's Day. He left with a friend that evening to meet some girls, she said.

"He just loved life," Ms. Gadsden said of her son. He was "everybody's protector" and a loyal friend.

Less than six hours later, shortly before midnight Saturday, a Zone 2 officer responded to a Hill District residence in the 2100 block of White Hill Drive in the Bedford Dwellings public housing complex for a report of a male being shot, according to Pittsburgh police.

In the courtyard was Dejour. He died at the scene from a gunshot wound to his upper body, the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said Monday.

The woman in the home told police that three men with black masks came inside and started shooting at her and her friend, later identified as Dejour, police said. The men drove away in a silver Nissan Maxima and made a left onto White Hill Drive before she lost sight of them, she told police.

She was taken to UPMC Mercy with what appeared to be a gunshot wound in the right buttock. Police described her condition as stable.

Pittsburgh police homicide detectives took two witnesses to be interviewed early Sunday morning.

Mr. Holtzman said he made an announcement about the death on the school intercom and grief counselors were made available.

Mr. Holtzman said he got to know Dejour early in his student career, before his family opted for the cyber program this school year.

"He was always a happy guy," he said. "He always had a lot of friends and people around him."

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede. First Published May 13, 2013 4:45 AM


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