2 teens critically wounded in Downtown Pittsburgh shooting; police seek witnesses | TribLIVE.com
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2 teens critically wounded in Downtown Pittsburgh shooting; police seek witnesses

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WPXI
Two men were shot Thursday, July 4, 2019, in Downtown Pittsburgh about an hour after the end of the city’s fireworks show.
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Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich speaks to the media about a shooting downtown after July 4 festivities during a briefing Friday, July 5, 2019, at Pittsburgh police headquarters on the North Side.
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Tom Davidson | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh police Major Crimes Commander Victor Joseph speaks to the media about a shooting downtown after July 4 festivities during a briefing Friday, July 5, 2019, at Pittsburgh police headquarters on the North Side.

Two teens were critically wounded Thursday night after shots were fired during a fight in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Cultural District that broke out as people were leaving the city’s fireworks show, police said.

The males, an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old, were in critical condition Friday at city hospitals after what Pittsburgh police Major Crimes Commander Victor Joseph called a “ridiculous act of senseless violence.”

“This wasn’t a random act of violence. It was a senseless act of violence, but it wasn’t random,” Joseph said.

Authorities didn’t identify the teens who were shot and wouldn’t say where they lived in the city. They were in Katz Plaza when fighting began shortly after 11 p.m., as were a multitude of others who were either involved in the fight or running from the gunfire.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich was less than two blocks away from the fight and said he heard the gunfire.

“This was a shameless act of violence,” Hissrich said.

Figuring out its source amid the chaos took some time, but police were able to locate the teens who were shot. They are seeking more information about what led up to the shooting.

“There were a large number of witnesses,” Joseph said. “What I need is the good citizens of the city of Pittsburgh and those that were downtown to report to police what they saw.”

Several witnesses and area businesses owners have come forward, Joseph said. He said they are seeking additional cellphone videos from witnesses.

As authorities investigate this shooting, they also will be working with other city officials and community leaders to figure out what can be done to prevent similar problems in the future, especially at large nighttime events Downtown, Hissrich said.

This was the first shooting at a July 4 event since 2016, when four people were wounded in another fight between groups of feuding youth broke out.

Since then, there has been an expanded police presence Downtown and a concerted effort by officials to prevent incidents.

“It’s not only up to public safety. It’s up to the community leaders, parents and guardians of these teenagers and juveniles who want to create problems,” Hissrich said.

The city is looking to increase lighting downtown, expand public transit routes after events and be more active with community leaders to combat the issue.

An expanded police presence isn’t enough, as evidenced Thursday. Aside from setting up security checkpoints throughout the city, there isn’t a definitive way for authorities to stem the violence, Hissrich said.

Authorities will be working to have a plan of action in advance of the city’s next large-scale event, the EQT Three Rivers Regatta, which will be Aug. 2 through 4.

Anyone with information about what led up to the shooting is asked to call police at (412) 323-7800.

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