Fear grows along with body count in week of violence on Pittsburgh streets
Gunmen targeted three victims in two apparently unrelated incidents Monday after a “pretty violent” week around the city that left some residents fearing for their lives.
A Pittsburgh sanitation worker was shot to death in his car Monday morning as he prepared to begin his route. Less than five hours later, two masked gunmen chased two victims on the streets of Glen Hazel in full view of neighbors, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition. A Chicago man was shot in the face and killed Saturday night in Beltzhoover. Arlington Heights was the scene of two daylight shootings Saturday and Sunday that wounded four.
Police are treating the incidents as unrelated, said Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler.
“Right now, there's no reason to believe they're connected,” Toler said. She described the past week as “pretty violent” and said the people involved in most of the shootings participated in “undesirable activities.”
“If you are a law-abiding citizen, you have very little to be concerned about,” Toler said.
Sanitation worker Omar Hodges had no criminal history, according to online court records.
Shortly before 7 a.m., someone in a silver or white four-door Nissan Altima fired 12 shots into Hodges' personal vehicle on Birmingham Avenue in Carrick as he was about to begin his route, Toler said.
Hodges, 29, of Homewood was a father of two, a hard worker and “an excellent provider,” according to his ex-wife.
“He was a very dependable and honest person. He took the kids everywhere and talked on the phone to them every night,” said Shamara Gorman-Hodges, 33. “He had three jobs, and he worked six or seven days a week. He was never in any trouble.”
Toler said, “We do not know if this victim was indeed the person they were going for.”
As Mayor Bill Peduto's office prepared to issue a statement saying Peduto was “deeply saddened” by the news of Hodges' death, two masked men chased two men through the Glen Hazel housing complex about 11:20 a.m., shooting and killing Marcus Critten, 22, and sending another man to UPMC Presbyterian in critical condition. Toler did not identify him. The shooters fled in a dark sedan, Toler said.
There's little question the shooters got who they were aiming for, according to a witness.
“The boy was running for his life,” said H.P. Jackson, 61, who was in his mother's house when he heard the gunshots. “I (saw) them chasing the boy. I was looking out the window — I was hoping no bullets would come in. He stood over him and shot him again.”
Michael Wilson, president of the Glen Hazel Tenant Council, said Critten participated in a focus group on Saturday to discuss barriers to employment and helped recruit others to participate.
“He was a very respectful, very pleasant young man who was looking for ways to empower himself,” Wilson said.
According to court records, police charged Critten with felony counts of kidnapping for ransom, robbery, and carrying a gun without a license in March 2013. A district judge dismissed the charges during a preliminary hearing. He was sentenced to three months of probation in January 2013 when he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and harassment.
There have been multiple shootings without injury in the Hill District since Eric Young, 17, was shot in the head and died Wednesday as he left his house with his mother for school.
Sha-Torri Mann, 22, of the Hill District said, “The way this beef is going on, I think there's a lot of need for concern.”
Mann was grocery shopping with her mother Friday but returned between 11:30 a.m. and noon when she learned her Rose Street home had been shot up. Three bullets struck her window and walls near the front door.
She said officers told her the target of the shooting was a woman walking nearby whose brother was somehow connected to the killing of Young.
“I fear for my life,” Mann said. “Bullets don't have names. You could walk outside at the wrong time and be hit.”
Peduto's statement called on citizens to contact police with information.
“Pittsburgh Bureau of Police detectives are responding to this and other recent incidents swiftly, firmly and appropriately,” he said. “They can work even better with assistance from the community. I urge anyone who has any information on these shootings — no matter how insignificant it may seem — to share it with police.”
Staff Writer Bobby Kerlik contributed. Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or [email protected].