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First funeral held after Wilkinsburg cookout ambush |

First funeral held after Wilkinsburg cookout ambush

Jean Horne
| Monday, March 14, 2016 9:15 a.m
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Friends and family gather outside Unity Baptist Church in Braddock for the funeral of Shada Mahone on Monday, March 14, 2016. Mahone was one of the victims of a mass shooting last week in Wilkinsburg.
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Mourners gather at Unity Baptist Church in Braddock for the funeral of Shada Mahone on Monday, March 14, 2016. Mahone was one of the victims of last week's mass shooting in Wilkinsburg.
Justin Merriman | Tribune Review
Pastor Richard Wingfield speaks to the media at Unity Baptist Church in Braddock before the funeral of Shada Mahone on Monday, March 14, 2016. Mahone was one of the victims of last week's mass shooting in Wilkinsburg.

As the first of the victims was laid to rest Monday, investigators were still searching for two men who shot and killed six people at a barbecue in Wilkinsburg last week.

A large crowd of mourners filed into Unity Baptist Church in Braddock for the funeral service for Shada Mahone, 26. She and four other people — plus an unborn child — were killed Wednesday night when two shooters trapped them in a backyard with a hail of bullets. Three others were wounded.

Police have not made an arrest, nor have they released a possible motive for the shooting. Allegheny County police said investigators are still sifting through tips from the public.

“The department is moving methodically through all of the information being provided,” county police Lt. Andrew Schurman said.

County police returned to the crime scene Monday assisted by a K-9 unit from McKeesport, county spokeswoman Amie Downs said.

Hundreds gathered at the church to bid farewell to Mahone, who had a 5-year-old daughter. Jerry Shelton, 35, Tina Shelton, 37, Brittany Powell, 27, and Chanetta Powell, 25, plus her unborn child, also died. LaMont Powell, 24, and another man were critically wounded.

“We’re trying to give messages of hope and encouragement to the family, not a message of vengeance and retaliation,” Pastor Richard Wingfield said before Mahone’s funeral.

Mourners released white doves and balloons in Mahone’s honor after the service.

Wingfield said Mahone was raised in the church, where she was baptized as a child.

“She had a very, very beautiful smile,” he said. “I watched her grow up. She was always happy.”

The pastor called her killers “cowards” who need to take responsibility for their actions, and he encouraged anyone with clues to contact police.

“It is distressing, it is bothering me that such a heinous act could be committed,” he said.

Brittany Powell, Chanetta Powell and Jerry Shelton were LaMont Powell’s siblings. Tina Shelton was a cousin and Mahone was a close family friend.

They planned the cookout at Brittany Powell’s house on Franklin Avenue to take advantage of the mild weather.

Investigators said the shooting began about 11 p.m. Two men fired from opposite sides of the yard, one with a .40-caliber handgun and the other with an AK-47-style assault rifle.

Jason Lando, commander of Pittsburgh Police Zone 5, sent an email Thursday warning about the possibility of retaliatory violence. He said police were working on a plan to “minimize the chances of any further violence,” particularly in Homewood, where some of the victims’ relatives live.

The Rev. Maurice Trent, pastor of Lighthouse Church and a friend of the Shelton-Powell family, said the families are holding up as well as could be expected.

“The message was uplifting,” he said. “Of course it’s always sad when you have to bury someone so young.”

It was unclear when the other funerals will be held.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation to the family can do so by contacting Citizens Bank about the Shelton-Powell memorial fund.

Elizabeth Behrman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7886 .

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