PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The echo of the fireworks through downtown had barely faded when it was replaced by the echos of gunfire.
“We heard the gunfire,” said Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. “People were diving for cover, the problem was we didn’t know where the gunfire was.”
Hissrich was with the police command post just down the street when it happened and officers ran towards the gunfire.
“Officers located the two gunshot victims; a 16-year-old male and an 18-year-old male, both were transported to area hospitals and are in critical condition,” said Commander Victor Joseph.
Commander Joseph says the shooting came during an altercation about an hour after the fireworks.
“It was a large fight in Katz Plaza that resulted in this gunfire,” he said.
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The public safety plan for keeping the Fourth of July celebration in Pittsburgh safe was extensive but Hissrich says you can’t prevent everything.
“Not unless you put bag checks and metal detectors at the city limits and that’s not going to happen,” he said. “The vast majority of the individuals were downtown to have a good time.”
Police are asking for the public’s help. Specifically, they are looking for eyewitnesses and any videos that may have captured the shooting. They are hoping the videos will help identify a suspect or suspects.
Joseph says the number of shots fired runs into double digits.
“This wasn’t a random act of violence, it was a senseless act of violence but it wasn’t just someone walking down the street,” he said.
As detectives continue the investigation, Hissrich is looking towards the next community event and what additional security steps are needed.
He says they will consider increasing the lighting on Liberty Avenue, Penn Avenue, Commonwealth Place, and Stanwix Street.
He also is contacting the Port Authority about increasing post event transportation.
“If we can work with them to make sure there are ample Port Authority buses available after the fireworks going to specific communities,” he said.
Hissrich would like to see the enhanced security ready in time for the Three Rivers Regatta next month.