Officials identify Homewood toddler killed in East Hills shooting
Two of Lenora “Connie” Smith's granddaughters remained hospitalized a day after a shooting at a picnic in the East Hills that killed her great-grandson, but police offered no information on Wednesday on what might have precipitated the violence.
“People with these guns need to just put the guns down,” said Smith, 59, of Wilkinsburg. “You're hurting innocent people and breaking up families.”
Marcus White Jr., 15 months old, of Homewood died at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh from a bullet in the chest on Tuesday evening, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.
“His smile would light up a room,” Smith said. “He was just a happy baby.”
Pittsburgh police said at least three gunmen got out of a vehicle and started shooting into a crowd in a common area on East Hills Drive about 7:30 p.m. Marcus' aunts, whom Smith identified as Shedayah and Kadejiah Tyler, were shot.
Police found Shedayah Tyler, 20, lying on top of Marcus. She was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in critical condition with a chest wound. Kadejiah Tyler was shot in the thigh, police said.
The girls attend Cheyney University and stopped in Pittsburgh before a planned trip to Atlanta to watch an aunt graduate, Smith said.
“They went to a picnic and they got shot,” Smith said. “They're very bright, very outgoing girls. We're so proud of them — and this happened.”
Cheyney University spokeswoman Pamela Carter said, “We regret that they have been injured and express condolences to their family.”
Councilman Ricky Burgess, whose district includes the East Hills, met with the victims and family members at the hospital. He asked neighborhood stakeholders to discuss the incident and strategies for ending neighborhood violence.
“We're all horrified,” Burgess said. “It's just a sad, sad event.”
He urged people to share what they know with police.
Police said investigators do not believe the victims were the intended targets. Homicide detectives released no details.
Smith said she was grocery shopping and ran into Marcus' mother at the store. Then they got a call about the shooting.
“We couldn't understand what was going on,” Smith said. “It was chaos.”
She hopes the shooters are brought to justice.
“We can't get Marcus back,” she said. “I just wish they would give themselves in and ask for forgiveness.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or email@example.com.