Outreach workers say the young people need intervention and opportunity to turn away from crime.

WILKINSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Violent crime and homicides are surging in the region and across the nation, raising concern for the summer months ahead.

After another violent weekend in Allegheny County, some are blaming the pandemic. Others see a growing problem with more young people turning to lives of crime.

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There were three homicides in Allegheny County this weekend, and all three of the victims were under the age of 25 — including the victim of a shooting in Wilkinsburg on Sunday.

The shooting was the fifth homicide in Wilkinsburg this year. Police say 17-year-old Darrin Hodby was shot multiple times before his assailants sped away.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

People in Wilkinsburg say young people have lost direction during the pandemic and are now shooting each other.

“I’m not necessarily saying that caused them to do the shooting,” said Oscar Sowell of Wilkinsburg. “But it’s the confusion. They are all mixed up.”

The homicide rate has close to doubled in Allegheny County to 48 so far this year, and 21 of the victims are between 15 and 25 years old.

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“The age group is 15 to 25 in drugs and alcohol. People getting out of lockdown now, not being in school, not being in jobs,” said Gina Brooks of the Violence Prevention Initiative.

Brooks and Richard Garland of Pitt’s Violence Prevention Initiative said after a year without school or direction, many of those young people with easy access to guns have turned to drug use and drug sales — street crime often resulting in murder.

“We need to have more programs, more opportunities, educational opportunities, as well vocational opportunities,” said Garland. “I think that will change the tide.”

But right now, the shootings go on unabated. Gun violence claimed the life of 21-year-old Jered Gambrill in McKeesport this past weekend. Back in Wilkinsburg, people are beginning to keep their own kids inside.

“That’s why I stay in my house and keep my boys safe. I have two Black boys in America and I keep them away from all of that,” said Candice Coleman.

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The concern in Wilkinsburg and around the region is the summer months. But outreach workers say the young people need intervention and opportunity to turn away from this street crime.