A 16-year-old male is being charged as an adult after allegedly participating in a gunfight that caused a 14-year-old’s death on Dec. 19. The suspect, who was being held in Allegheny County Jail on $25,000 bail as of Dec. 21, faces charges of aggravated assault, as well as weapons charges. Another suspect, 21, was also charged with illegal possession of a weapon but is not believed to have participated in the shootings.
Pittsburgh police say that three young men exchanged at least 15 shots the afternoon of the incident, which took place in the West Homestead neighborhood. The victim was struck in the back by a bullet and the 21-year-old man, who was nearby, tried to aid him, but the teenager died at the scene.
Police arrested the man as well as the 16-year-old. The younger man was charged with aggravated assault, firearms violations, reckless endangerment and making false statements to police. The 21-year-old was charged with illegally carrying a weapon. He posted $5,000 bail and was released from custody. The third person allegedly involved in the gun battle had not been found as of Dec. 21. It remains to be seen if that third person or the 16-year-old will be accused of firing the fatal gunshot.
Shootings involving teenagers are unusual, according to a Carnegie Mellon University criminologist interviewed in an article about the incident, but teenagers often do not consider the consequences of their actions.
The victim was the youngest of four siblings. His mother described him as enjoying sports and music.
The Steel Valley School District, which the victim’s high school is a part of, provided grief counselors at both local high schools and placed metal detectors and hand wands at the schools.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Reason for West Homestead gunfight that killed teen eludes police,” Tom Fontaine, Dec. 21, 2011