After gunshots ripped through a picnic at the Second East Hills housing complex Tuesday evening, killing 1-year-old Marcus White Jr. and seriously wounding two of his aunts, a rattled family made a public appeal for anyone with information to come forward.
"Everybody need to turn y'allself in and y'all need to stop all this violence," Marcus' godmother, Patricia Mathias, told KDKA-TV through bouts of sobbing. "Y'all need to put these guns down, whoever you are."
Marcus' mother, Jameela Tyler, said there were lots of friends and family at the picnic, including her sisters, Shedayah Tyler, 20, and Kadejiah Tyler, 19, who had just returned from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania two days earlier.
In what some neighbors described as the sound of fireworks, three gunmen emerged from a vehicle and began shooting, according to police spokeswoman Diane Richard.
Both sisters were hit, and when police arrived, they found Shedayah Tyler lying on top of Marcus, who was shot once in the chest, according to the medical examiner's office.
"It was a drive-by shooting," Jameela Tyler of Wilkinsburg said. "I don't know what's behind it. [Marcus] was an innocent bystander."
Both sisters were still hospitalized Wednesday evening. One is in critical condition, and the other's condition has been described as stable, according to Ms. Richard.
Homicide detectives said it was likely they were not targets.
Jameela Tyler, 22, said she was working her job at a nursing home when she got a phone call from her brother. She rushed to the scene, but by then her 15-month-old son had already been taken to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where he was pronounced dead.
Police have not made any arrests, but Ms. Richard urged anyone with information to contact police. "This toddler should not have been a victim in this horrific and senseless shooting," she wrote in an email.
That refrain echoed through a Wednesday afternoon meeting with community members led by Pittsburgh Councilman Ricky Burgess and state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Lincoln-Lemington.
"We want the community to know that it's not about snitching, it's about testifying," Mr. Gainey said. "A baby is dead."
Mr. Burgess said his plan to install more cameras and detectors that alert police when the sound of a gunshot is registered would extend to the East Hills neighborhood.
"There's an old initiative that needs to be re-done, and that is an ongoing public safety collaborative meeting," he said, adding that not enough public safety agencies communicate with each other, and Zone 5 police -- the site of the shooting -- are short staffed.
Mr. Burgess ended the meeting by asking those in attendance to join hands in prayer. "We pray for Marcus' family," he said. "We pray for this grieving mother."neigh_city
Alex Zimmerman: email@example.com or 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @AGZimmerman