Knoxville Community Members Call For Unity After ShootingBy Brenda Waters

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Police say they have made an arrest in connection with a shooting in Knoxville over the weekend that critically injured a 6-year-old girl.

Investigators have taken 19-year-old Kamau Thomas, Jr., of Carrick, into custody in the Sunday night shooting that happened along Zara Street. He is facing one count of criminal attempted homicide and 12 counts of reckless endangerment, as well as charges of aggravated assault and carrying a firearm without a license.

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News of the arrest came hours after community members came together for to pray for the victim, 6-year-old Isis Allen.

It began with a few men who stood on a street corner in Knoxville. Some of them chatted and mingled with police.

The reason they gathered was to send out a message. It was a call for “neighborhood unity” in the aftermath of the shooting, just a few blocks from where the group gathered.

Organizers said it was a call to action after the little girl was shot in the head Sunday night while near the porch of a neighbor’s home.

Organizer Jason Waller told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “We’re going to have to unify as a community. If we can do that, we can deal with the problems at hand. The police can’t do it all by themselves; they can’t. It takes us, as a community.”

DeVon Madden, with the South Side Athletic Association, said, “We need to unify families. Not just work with the kids, but also work with parents as well.”

The group picked up support as it walked a short distance and ended up in front of the home in the 300-block of Zara Street, where a group prayer was held.

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The victim was shot in the head while on the front porch of Charlotta Smith’s home. According to police, little Isis was nearby when the shots were fired in the direction of the porch where several people were gathered.

Smith is described as a Good Samaritan, who has a reputation of trying to help and welcome young mothers and their children into her home.

Smith told the group, “We all need to take this, and instead of hating, killing, shooting, and cussing, we need to get together and pray and unite as a people, Amen.”

Justin Allen, holding back tears at the vigil, left the hospital bedside of his daughter and briefly prayed with the others for an end to the violence.

At last report, the child remains in critical condition, on life support at UPMC Children’s Hospital.

Police say they interviewed about 20 people before making the arrest Monday.

According to court papers, Thomas said he was in the area for a fight between two women. While he was there, he claimed another man made threatening gestures towards him. After the fight broke up, Thomas said he returned to the area with the intention to scare off the other man.

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Thomas reportedly told police he fired a shot into the air towards the roof of the home and when he brought the gun down the trigger was “sensitive” and the gun “started going crazy, and kept going off until (the magazine) was empty.”