Wilkinsburg Residents Share Ideas To End Violence

Mar 14, 2016

Hundreds of residents and leaders in the Wilkinsburg community gathered Saturday for a meeting that encouraged them to share ideas about how to end gun violence.
Credit Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of residents filled South Avenue United Methodist Church in Wilkinsburg on Saturday to talk about crime and community development following Thursday's shooting that killed five people, including a pregnant woman.

Among community members and leaders was Michael Walker, whose son, Jerry Shelton, died in the mass shooting.

“My son was my oldest," Walker told the crowd. "He was a good man. A good, caring and loving man.”

Walker said grooming young men to choose the right path starts when they’re kids.

“We have to show them and teach them what it means to carry a gun, far before they ever know how to use them," Walker said. "You don’t want no gun.”

Godfrey McCray, 25, works with youth in his neighborhood and recently co-founded a mentoring program at Wilkinsburg High School

“The negative things that these children see -- sometimes they gravitate toward them because there’s no one there to stop them," he said. "I always had people in the community who would say, 'Hey, what’re you doing? Come here. Sit down. Don’t make me take you to your mom.'”

Borough Councilwoman Vanessa McCarthy-Johnson, who organized the meeting, said forming a resident activist group is an idea she's mulled for a while. Ideally, she said, this will be the first of regular monthly meetings to carve out more actionable steps to stop neighborhood violence.

“We’re not going to let this tragedy destroy us, and (we won't) be traumatized for any longer,” McCarthy-Johnson said.

McCarthy looked at the packed sanctuary. Wilkinsburg is still a great place to live, she said.