PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gun violence is spreading throughout Allegheny County’s suburbs.
For the second year in a row, homicides in the county kept pace with those in the City of Pittsburgh.
Last May, 16-year-old Delasia Dutrieuille died of a gunshot wound to the head in Hawkins Village in Rankin, shocking the community.
Today, a makeshift memorial is a reminder and a motivation to Rankin Police Chief Ryan Wooten.
“I don’t want to see no more of these. My goal for 2014, not to see this,” said Chief Wooten.
Last year, there were 91 homicides in Allegheny County, 46 in the City of Pittsburgh and 45 in the suburban county towns. Many of those occurred in the Mon Valley.
There were two homicides in Rankin, one in Braddock, two in Duquesne, three in Munhall and six in McKeesport — a sign that violent crime has taken root in those economically struggling towns.
Chief Wooten says a lack of economic opportunity in the Valley has spawned the rise of drug gangs who squabble over turf and deals gone bad.
While Valley police forces pool their resources, they are undermanned, underpaid and sometimes overmatched.
“We’re outgunned. These folks out here can get and do get better guns than we have. We have a budget, they don’t,” said Chief Wooten.
Still, police there are highly motivated, hopeful that after more than three decades of decline, the Valley can start to lift itself back up again.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “You can see a day when Rankin, Braddock and these towns will come back?”
Chief Wooten: “Absolutely.”
But police can only do so much; and police in Rankin and throughout the Mon Valley know that without education and economic opportunity, things will only get worse before they get better.