McKeesport vigil draws somber crowd
Sky lanterns and candles lit up Riverview Street in McKeesport on Tuesday evening as friends and family gathered to remember two cousins.
Carlos Hudson, 41, and Jana Randolph, 49, of McKeesport died of gunshots to the head on Aug. 22, shortly before 9 p.m. They were found in a silver Toyota over a hillside along the 2300 block of Riverview Street.
About 50 people packed the top of the hill and prayed for an end to violence.
“It's amazing because you just don't know you have the friends until you really need them,” Randolph's father Albert Mockabee said. “You look around and see that there's more than one that's suffering as we have been suffering.”
Mockabee remembered his daughter as a caring person who loved to help people.
“She loved to work with people,” he said. “She was just (an outgoing) person. She was well-known, better than I. More people knew her than I thought. I loved her and I will miss her.”
Hudson proposed to Beth Derkas last year. They were together for 13 years. She helped to organize the candlelight vigil that included silver and purple balloons, two crosses covered in flowers, photographs of the victims and a lot of emotion.
“I feel comfort in this spot,” Derkas said, holding back tears. “I just lived for Carlos. Carlos was my everything. He showed me life. He was a great daddy, had seven kids, took care of all of them. They were always with him. I just take it day by day.”
The Rev. Earlene Coleman of Bethlehem Baptist Church in McKeesport spoke about taking action and not relying only on the police, mayor, council, churches or other authorities.
“It has to be all of us working together,” Coleman said. “I come back asking, ‘What's the community going to do?' The Bible says that if you know to do right, and you don't do it, it is sin ... We just might save a life if we'll speak up.”
Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project and Coalition Against Violence organizer, spoke about other acts of violence and vigils.
“We don't need to see any more pictures, have any more candles, balloons, T-shirts, sweatshirts with our children pictured, our grandchildren,” Stevens said. “Unfortunately, it has become commonplace.”
Stevens said families must take responsibility for themselves and not benefit from illegal activity.
“We have to confront what we're facing, put values in our children's minds early,” Stevens said.
The Rev. Terry Johnson of the Salvation Army's McKeesport branch called for people to discard their weapons. He prayed before the balloon-and-lantern release.
“You're not a man toting a gun,” Johnson said. “I think that's less than a man. Value some life. Life, that's what it's about.”
Derkas and Mockabee urged the public to come forth with any information regarding the deaths of their loved ones.
“The criminal gets away with everything and the good people, they got to suffer,” Mockabee said. “People need to stop being afraid and speak up.”
“They know I'm at this site every day. They know I'm at the graveyard every day,” Derkas said. “Leave a note on a car, in my mailbox, anything.”
Anyone with information can contact Allegheny County police at 412-473-1300 or McKeesport police at 412-675-5050. Callers can remain anonymous.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.