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Child killed in East Hills shooting

| Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 7:59 p.m.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Investigation takes place in a shooting at the East HIlls Community Tuesday, May 21, 2013. It was reported that a young child was killed and two women shot.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
An officer identifies where a bullet hit a car in the East Hills Community after a shooting there Tuesday, May 21, 2013. It was reported that a child was killed and two women were shot.
Heidi Murrin | Tribune-Review
Investigation takes place in a shooting at East Hills Community Tuesday, May 21, 2013. It was reported a young child was killed and two women shot.

Gunmen opened fire on a group having a backyard picnic Tuesday night in the East Hills, Pittsburgh police said, killing a toddler and leaving two women wounded.

Police arriving in a cul-de-sac off East Hills Drive about 7:30 p.m. found a woman shot in the chest, lying on top of the mortally wounded toddler, said Lt. Richard Pritchard. Friends later said the woman was the boy's aunt.

Neighbors say violence is commonplace in the neighborhood.

“This is shocking. We're not going to tolerate it,” said Claudia Wells, pastor of Grace and Truth Church Inc., which gathers in the nearby East Hills Civic Center. “We're going to pray for the community and the victims. If we have to become a gated community, we will.”

Paramedics rushed the 19-month-old boy away from the chaos to Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville, where he died about 30 minutes later. His aunt, 20, was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, Oakland, where she was in critical condition.

A 19-year-old woman, identified by relatives as the other woman's sister, was taken to the same hospital where she underwent surgery for a bullet wound to her thigh, police said.

Dozens of bullet casings littered the road more than 50 yards from the picnic area.

As many as three gunmen got out of a vehicle on East Hills Drive and started shooting into the crowd, city police spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

“Detectives do not believe that the victims were the intended target,” she said.

Police did not release names of the victims or a possible motive. No one has been arrested.

“There was a lot of panic and chaos when we arrived,” Pritchard said.

Neighbors said they heard a string of gunfire that sounded like firecrackers. It has become a problem in the community, forcing them to keep children inside.

“You've got to watch them going out in the morning and when you come home at night. It's crazy,” said Tamika Scott, the mother of children ages 6, 7 and 8. “I'm thinking about moving as soon as I can before summer. You can't even have a cookout. It's ridiculous.”

Wells said the church sponsored a prayer walk in the neighborhood in 2000.

“The church is going to pray for the family and the community,” said Monique Shorter, a minister there. “The family can contact us if they need help with anything.”

Paulette Fultz said she moved her family of four children out of the neighborhood about 18 months ago.

“There's a lot of shootings, and I was scared for the children to be outside,” she said. “It used to be the shootings were at night, but now they're happening in broad daylight.

“It's no way to live, keeping kids locked up in the home all day.”

Michael Hasch is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7820 or mhasch@tribweb.com.

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