City council and community remember slain 15-month-old boy, call for justice

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Marcus White Jr. would have turned 2 on Wednesday.

It's easy to imagine his birthday party: cake and balloons, family and friends laughing.

"He probably would have had a lot of things on his mind about what he was going to get, his birthday presents, being with his family. He'll never have that opportunity. All of us, all of us owe him justice," Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Saturday at a rally for the 15-month-old who was shot and killed in May.

City Council will remember the life of the energetic toddler who loved music and dancing by designating today as Marcus Lamont White Jr. Day.

The proclamation sponsored by council President Bruce Kraus states that Marcus' "untimely passing shall serve to remind us all of our duty to protect families and children from the cancer of gun violence with the hopes of preventing any further loss of innocent lives as a result of these senseless acts of inhumanity."

It means a lot, says Marcus' mom, Jameela Tyler, 23, of Wilkinsburg, but she's just hoping the killer -- or someone with information -- will come forward.

During a family cookout May 21 at the Second East Hills housing complex, some neighbors said they thought they heard the sound of fireworks. But it was the gunfire of three men who had emerged from a vehicle and began shooting, police have said.

Though there were dozens of potential witnesses when Marcus was killed and two of his aunts were injured, police have made no arrests and do not believe Marcus and his aunts, who both recovered, were the intended targets.

Someone knows who killed Marcus, Mr. Kraus said, but "a code of silence" is preventing them from coming forward.

The fear of retaliation keeps witnesses quiet, said Rob Conroy, regional director of CeaseFire PA.

"People are afraid to cooperate with law enforcement, even when they saw something potentially horrific," he said.

For months, Marcus' family, community groups and leaders have pleaded for anyone with information to come forward.

At the corner of Bennett and Oakwood streets in Homewood, a black and yellow billboard with a photo of Marcus says "MURDER! in East Hills" and offers a $5,000 reward, sponsored by the local nonprofit Prevent Another Crime TODAY.

At the seventh rally seeking "Justice for Baby Marcus" on Saturday, Mr. Peduto told about 70 people gathered under the clock tower in Mount Oliver that "the city will dedicate whatever is needed to find the killers of this baby."

The rallies have traversed Pittsburgh, starting at Freedom Corner on Oct. 5 and visiting sites such as Braddock, East Hills, Homewood, and the Zone 5 police station on Washington Boulevard.

The message is always clear: If you know something about Marcus' death, tell police.

Anyone with information should contact 412-621-7788. Callers will remain anonymous.

The Justice for Baby Marcus movement's eighth rally will be held March 8 in Garfield and is being promoted through a Facebook page (Justice for Baby Marcus) and Instagram (Justice for Baby Mac).

Lexi Belculfine:, 412-263-1878 or on Twitter @LexiBelc.

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