Wilkinsburg

Allegheny County Police

A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed drug and weapons charges stemming from a 2013 case against two men who were later charged in an ambush at a Wilkinsburg cookout that killed five adults and an unborn child last year.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David Cashman on Monday granted a dismissal request from defense attorneys for 29-year-old Cheron Shelton and 27-year-old Robert Thomas along with a third defendant in the drug case, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is seeking public input as it finalizes plans for Pittsburgh's long-awaited bus rapid transit system.

Riders can offer suggestions at upcoming neighborhood meetings about street design, station locations and what amenities they’d like to see at each station, like benches and Connect Card machines. They'll also offer general updates and allow for questions about the planning process, spokesman Adam Brandolph said.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The Port Authority of Allegheny County makes changes to its bus schedules four times a year. The next one, coming up on June 18, will affect 15 routes

Honoring Dr. Thomas Starzl, A Medical Pioneer

Mar 10, 2017
University of Pittsburgh

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week's stories include a look back on the career of medical pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl, known as the "father of transplantation," who passed away last Saturday. Transportation continues to be a major issue in the region. We'll discover the latest plans to better connect the counties. And in our final segment, we'll get updates on the mayoral primary, Wilkinsburg a year after a tragic shooting and the Mon-Fayette Expressway.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Franklin Avenue in Wilkinsburg is a mostly uneventful place these days.

“It’s been quiet,” said Jackie Pendleton, who’s lived in the borough northeast of Pittsburgh for 34 years. “It’s been quiet since that incident took place down the street.”

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Vanessa McCarthy-Johnson was scrambling to organize her community at this time last year. The Wilkinsburg Borough councilwoman said she felt there was a need to come together after five people, including a pregnant woman, were murdered at a backyard barbecue in the neighborhood.

Traisaun Leake / Hazelwood Youth Media Justice

If a student misbehaves in a Pittsburgh Public School, the administrators are bound by a disciplinary code. But which reactions are punitive? Which are restorative? And what's more likely to help the student and his or her classroom culture?

J. Dale Shoemaker / PublicSource

“Would you like to register to vote?”

Nearly every time Elaine Harris-Fulton asks the question, she gets a version of, “I’m already registered.”

MAD DADS Pittsburgh

This year marks a decade since a group of local men began a chapter of the national faith-based organization MAD DADS in the Pittsburgh region.

MAD DADS stands for Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder and in the last 10 years, membership has grown from about a dozen members to nearly 60.

Membership is key to MAD DADS’ signature program, street patrol. It consists of members going out into neighborhoods to offer a positive social presence. They aim to address drugs, gangs and violence through conversation.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 200 Wilkinsburg-area teens started school at Westinghouse Academy in Homewood on Monday.

Teachers and community members lined Westinghouse's entrance, cheering, “Good morning, we’re glad you’re here. Have a good day! Have a good school year!”

They wanted to help ease the merger of Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse, they said.

Ernest Bey, a member of Wilkinsburg community group Mad Dads, which works to keep youths out of trouble, held a sign reading, “Don’t forget your past, look forward to your future.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA


The Wilkinsburg School District has seen a high turnover in leadership in the last several years. It’s on the state’s watch list for low academic performance which, combined with declining enrollment, led to the closure of its middle and high school in May. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Two men charged with ambushing a suburban Pittsburgh cookout and killing five adults and an unborn child face a hearing to determine whether they'll stand trial.

Cheron Shelton, 29, and Robert Thomas, 27, face six counts of criminal homicide and other charges in the March 9 shooting in Wilkinsburg.

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Writers, musicians and artists in Wilkinsburg are coming together to celebrate creativity at Wilkinsburg Dream City Art this weekend. The event provides a space for artists to get together and share their work with the community.

Joey Behrens, a Wilkinsburg artist, said the event began last year when two artists wondered who else was doing work in the city. She said the initial idea was for Wilkinsburg artists to get to know one another.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Two men ambushed a backyard cookout near Pittsburgh, killing a pregnant woman, her 8-month-old fetus and four other adults, because they wanted retribution for the 2013 slaying of a friend, authorities said Thursday.

Robert Thomas, 27, and Cheron Shelton, 29, both face five counts of criminal homicide, one count of homicide of an unborn child, three counts of aggravated assault, three more of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, six counts of reckless endangerment and one count of criminal conspiracy to commit murder. 

WTAE

Former WTAE anchor Wendy Bell filed a federal lawsuit Monday claiming wrongful termination and racial discrimination against the television station she said encouraged her to post her opinions to social media.

Bell was fired in late March for violating journalistic ethics and the station's standards for what was deemed a racially insensitive Facebook post after five adults and an unborn child died in a mass shooting during a backyard cookout in Wilkinsburg. Police haven't charged anyone with the shooting.

What Will Happen To Wilkinsburg's 'Tiger Pride?'

Jun 7, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Graduation at Wilkinsburg High School this year was a little more sentimental and bittersweet than in the past. The 2016 seniors were the final group to graduate from the school, as the district prepares to merge its students with Pittsburgh Westinghouse in Homewood.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

State education officials wired Wilkinsburg School District $3 million in emergency funding last week to aid in middle and high school students transitioning to Pittsburgh Public Schools this fall.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Interim Wilkinsburg High School Principal Shawn Johnston’s voice reverberated through the intercom into bare, empty hallways on the second to last day of school. Packing boxes had arrived in the office.

Students weren’t in the building as teachers finished grades and prepared for the school to permanently close following Friday’s 7 p.m. graduation. Their last full day in the school was Wednesday.

"I really hate it, you know, because there are a lot of memories here," said Roxanne Robinson, who graduated in the 1970s.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse sixth, seventh and eighth graders got an early taste of the schools' impending merger at a field day in North Park on Tuesday.

Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation / Facebook

Experience all things Wilkinsburg this weekend at “Link on Penn,” a community event celebrating local businesses and organizations in the Pittsburgh suburb

Tim Murdoch, Steering Committee member for Leadership Development Initiative says this partnership with the Wilkinsburg community was inspired by the positivity and good news arising from the neighborhood.

Daveynin / Flickr

Fifteen community projects in Pennsylvania are being funded by the state’s Keystone Communities program, Gov. Tom Wolf announced today. 

In 1680, English nobleman Edward Coke codified his country's common law regarding fetal homicide.

"[T]his is a great misdemeanour, and no murder," Coke wrote of the intentional death of a fetus in utero "by Potion, Battery, or other cause."

Greg Sciulli

While many vacant homes continue to crumble in Wilkinsburg, a select few will have their stories told.

The Wilkinsburg Vacant Home Tour began as a project by Carnegie Mellon University to address the issue of urban decay in the borough. The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation adopted the tour during its second year.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

A Pittsburgh man arrested a third time on drug and weapons charges stemming from a police search three years ago is a suspect in a cookout ambush last month that killed five people, including a pregnant woman, a detective testified Thursday.

Allegheny County Detective Steve Hitchings testified at a bond hearing that Robert Thomas is a suspect in the March 9 cookout shootings in Wilkinsburg and has been told he's a suspect, KDKA-TV first reported Thursday.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

From a corridor outside the intake bays at the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office, chief examiner Karl Williams takes a mental inventory.

"Thirteen-hundred cases, 1,600 items in every year, around 150,000 tests," he said. "You can’t do analyses of every piece of potential evidence you get in, but we’ve always got it."

Homicides committed outside city limits make up just a fraction of the deaths Williams’ county-wide office oversees, but most murders are evaluated in tandem by multiple agencies, including county and municipal police, pathologists and a spectrum of other agencies tasked with a battery of supplemental tasks.

Banjo Brown / flickr

Local leaders are responding to last week's deadly shooting in Wilkinsburg, saying communities must adopt thorough, extensive plans to stop violence. Community Empowerment Association president and CEO T. Rashad Byrdsong helped host a meeting in Wilkinsburg last weekend to address some of these issues. 

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.”

Very Smart Brothas

  Last week’s mass shooting in Wilkinsburg provoked strong reactions within the neighborhood, across the city and in national media.

Writer and former Wilkinsburg High School teacher Damon Young offered one of them on his blog, Very Smart Brothas.

He writes that crime, failing schools and declining property values are "not unintended coincidences or even unfortunate inevitabilities," but "intentional results of Pittsburgh’s decades-long disregard of its black population.”

90.5 WESA’s Josh Raulerson asked Young to elaborate.

Guy Wathen / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Reporters rushed to the scene of the shooting in Wilkinsburg in the early hours Thursday to document the shooting deaths and injuries of nine people. Among them, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review multimedia journalist Guy Wathen worked with fellow still photographers to give the paper's online readers a sense of the borough gripped by tragedy.

Wathen spoke with 90.5 WESA’s Larkin Page-Jacobs about his experience.

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