Police Looking for 2 Gunmen Who Killed 5, Wounded 3 at Backyard Party Ambush Shooting in PA

(Photo: Michael Henninger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via AP)
(Photo: Michael Henninger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, via AP)

Five people were killed and three injured in an ambush-style shooting at a backyard party late Wednesday in Wilkinsburg, a working-class suburb east of Pittsburgh, police said.

Lt. Andrew Schurman of the Allegheny County homicide unit said four people were found dead at the scene and the fifth died at a local hospital. Two men were in critical condition and a woman was stable, according to police.

Police offered no motive for the shooting but said they were looking for two gunmen who barged into the cookout and opened fire.

“I heard about 30 gunshots, it was just a constant,” Jackie Johnson-Pendleton, a neighbor, told KDKA. “When I came out, people were screaming and running and bodies were lying on the front porch. People’s lives taken like that at the drop of a hat, it’s just insane and it needs to stop.”

Schurman said said the shots were fired from two locations but police don’t believe anyone at the party fired back.

“Partygoers appeared to try to run into the residence, at which point a person on the side or backyard adjacent to the residence fired at the back porch,” Schurman said. “All four of the individuals who died at the scene died on that back porch.”

As ambulances and police cars converged on the scene, neighbors gathered on the street, some of them sobbing and saying they lost family members, the Associated Press reported.

The victims were identified as siblings Jerry Shelton, 35, Brittany Powell, 27, and Chanetta Powell, 25; Tina Shelton, 37, and Shada Mahone, 26, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office.

Kayla Alexander, a local resident, told WPXI-TV she was walking home when she heard two dozen shots and saw people running from the area. She said authorities weren’t allowing her to get to her home on Franklin Avenue, a usually quiet street lined by two-story brick houses built in the early 1900s.

James Boyd, 70, has lived in a home three doors away from the shooting for 24 years. He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the gunfire “went on for almost a minute.”

“I thought it was maybe the pipes bursting. But then we realized it was gunshots. We’ve had trouble in this neighborhood before but never this close to home,” Boyd said. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

In 2001, the Allegheny County community of 15,800 people, was the scene of another fatal rampage when a gunman went on a lunchtime shooting spree at two fast-food restaurants, killing two people and wounding three, according to The New York Times. Ron Taylor, the 39-year-old gunman who left a suicide note, surrendered after a standoff and was later convicted. He is currently on death row in Pennsylvania.

SOURCE: Doug Stanglin and Carolyn McAtee Cerbin