SHADYSIDE(KDKA) – A local activist working to clean up the streets became a victim of gun violence in those same streets this weekend.READ MORE: Pittsburghers Have Mixed Reactions To Weekend Traffic Restrictions On East Carson Street
Stephen Drake, Jr. was shot in the stomach and killed in the 5600 Block of Fifth Avenue while riding his motorcycle around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The investigation is ongoing.
“They took a soldier, took a strong soldier away from us,” Richard Garland, with the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, said about Drake.
The 47-year-old Drake was a man who earned tremendous respect in the neighborhoods throughout the east end of Pittsburgh for his efforts to stop violence.
Garland says Drake worked for him as a life coach. He said Drake had a talent for mediating and resolving conflicts, and in extreme cases, saving lives.
“When he spoke, they listened,” Garland said. “Normally, this generation of young people, they don’t listen to older dudes, (but) they listened to him.”READ MORE: Man Accused Of Beating His 5-Year-Old Son To Death With Baseball Bat Could Face Death Penalty
Garland says violence is viewed as a public health problem, and Drake gained the trust and respect of the community while trying to cure the disease.
“Steve was good at interrupting the transmission of the disease and in a sense treating the disease,” Garland said. “He was always looking. He would put dudes in his van to take them to job interviews.”
Garland admitted that, like most of us, Drake was not a perfect human being, but his heart was it the right place.
“This guy was a formerly incarcerated guy who gave back every day,” Garland said.
“Hopefully it opens up eyes that we need to start in the communities,” said Gina Brooks, one of Drake’s co-workers. “We need to stop violence ourselves.”MORE NEWS: Upper St. Clair Family Starts Non-Profit Organization To Honor Son Who Died Of Kidney Disease
Now, there is one less doctor treating the disease.