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Police Blaming Gang Violence In North Side Shootings

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh police are stepping up patrols after a double murder Thursday capped off a violent week on the city’s North Side. Police are blaming it on gang violence.

The bodies of the 21-year-old and a 15-year-old were discovered in a car. Authorities say 22 shots were fired over the past five days on the North Side.

“The 21-year-old victim here, he did have association with the one gang,” said Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper.

“Our gangs, or our violent groups on the North Side, often aren’t clearly structured,” said Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson, of Pittsburgh Police. “It’s not what people believe to be the gangs such as on the West Coast where there’s an identified leader in the gang and lieutenants in the gang, and et cetera.”

When gangs like the Law Gang first came on the scene in the early 1990s, they eventually were prosecuted much like the mafia and other organized crime operations under the racketeering laws by federal prosecutors because they were organized.

Tom Merrick is a former county prosecutor who worked with federal investigators as well on those cases.

“That was the allegation. The allegation was that it was an enterprise as that was defined under the Rico Statute,” said Merrick.

So, beyond increased patrols, what happens next?

The University of Pittsbrugh’s Graduate School of Public Health hopes to identify all of the agencies trying to fix the problem and see what works.

“Right now, there are many, many different kinds of response that organizations have. Sometimes they cross purposes, sometimes coordinated and we need to take a step back,” said Steve Albert, Ph.D., of the Graduate School of Public Health. “Take stock of what’s out there and figure out what works and what doesn’t work under what circumstances.”

Police say there are 13 gangs they’ve identified on the North Side alone.

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