HILL DISTRICT (KDKA)- Hours after officials announced a new crackdown on violent crime in Pittsburgh, officers responded to another shooting Monday night.
According to police, the shooting happened just before midnight in the 2400-block of Bedford Avenue in the Hill District just before midnight.
The victim was shot in the back and was unresponsive when emergency crews arrived.
He was rushed to a local hospital and was last listed in critical condition.
So far, no arrests have been made.
The shooting comes just hours after a press conference involving Mayor Bill Peduto, Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar and Acting Police Chief Regina McDonald, where the uptick in homicides this year was addressed.
Bucar said the uptick in homicides could be related to the drug trade.
“It seems to revolve around the drug trade – the drug trafficking trade. A lot of this violence is being perpetrated by those who are competing with each other for the finances associated with that trade,” Bucar said.
The press conference came on the heels of a homicide Sunday night in Northview Heights. The body of a man was found in a wooded area off of Penfort Street around 10 p.m.
Now, Public Safety officials are once again asking for the public’s help to solve these homicides.
In response to a spike in the number of homicides, the East End will get 13 police recruits who were sworn in just last week.
“They’re going to be sent to Zone 5 beginning next week,”McDonald said. “They will be doing training this week, but they will be going to Zone 5 next week and and they’ll be assigned to walk beats.”
This year’s homicide numbers spiked upward in July with 11 homicides last month alone:
January – 5
February – 3
March – 6
April – 6
May – 4
June – 4
July – 11
August – 2
That brings the total for the year to 41 and only 18 have been solved.
That appears on pace to approach a record number of homicides like the 1993 record of 83 for the year.
1993 – 83
2003 – 67
2008 – 74
2010 – 57
2013 – 46
Bucar said predicting homicide rates isn’t easy.
“It’s very hard, its dangerous for us to speculate,” he said. “One thing that holds true year after year after year if you look at crime statistics, especially violent crime month by month, typically the warm months, the warm weather months have a higher crime rate across the board.”
And what of the public being asked to help police when there is a fear that witnesses can face retaliation?
“If you do have information, you can remain completely anonymous,” Peduto said. “In other words, we don’t have a tracker on the phone of who’s calling. Just some information that you may have, which you might not think is very relevant, can help us track and use some other information to find somebody.”
Community Empowerment Association CEO Rashad Byrdsong thinks a broader approach is needed to address the issue.
“We need to look at a broader, comprehensive approach to address a lot of the social problems that impact the fabric of these here distressed and marginalized communities – from education from workforce development and training, for community economic development. All of these things are part of what we need to do to address the whole culture of violence in our community perpetuated by young people,” Byrdsong said.
Community organizations throughout Pittsburgh reacted to a news conference held by police and government leaders Monday night.
The Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation has a detailed public safety initiative to help police.
Advocates there make it their mission to encourage witnesses to come forward with information about unsolved crimes. That’s one of the biggest challenges for investigators.
Deputy Director Aggie Brose told KDKA’s Kym Gable, “What are we as a society? Call in with information. Let the police do their job. They can’t do it alone.”
Executive Director Rick Swartz says he eager to meet the 13 new officers that will be assigned to Zone 5.
“How much exposure can they get your neighborhood leaders before they set foot on the street? We can help them understand What our expectations are of how they do their jobs. what our expectations are how they do their jobs,” he said.