6 Killed—Including a Pregnant Woman—in a Backyard Massacre Near Pittsburgh

Angela Bronner Helm
Jessica Shelton (second from right), the mother and aunt of several victims, breaks down during a press conference March 9, 2016.
WTAE screenshot

A heinous massacre in a suburb of Pittsburgh left six dead Wednesday. The Allegheny County prosecutor has described it as execution-style.

“The murders were planned, calculated, brutal," said District Attorney Stephen Zappala to NBC News of the shootings, which happened in Wilkinsburg, a town of about 15,000 just east of Pittsburgh. “They were all head shots,” Zappala said.


Four people were killed on-site, and three others were wounded, after gunmen opened fire at a late-night cookout, with one of the shooters gunning down victims as they fled. One woman was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

The New York Daily News reports that a gunman in an alley opened fire with a .40-caliber pistol around 11 p.m. As the partygoers ran for safety, a second gunman, lying in wait behind a chain-link fence, sprayed bullets at those fleeing with a .762-caliber rifle.

"It looks like, right now, they were all fleeing toward the back door of the residence when the second gunman fired from the side of the yard, and they all seemed to get caught on the back porch," Allegheny County Police Lt. Andrew Schurman told NBC News.

Eight of the shooting victims were cousins or siblings, in their 20s or 30s, and had young children, reports the News.


The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office identified the dead victims as Jerry Shelton, 35; Tina Shelton, 37; Brittany Powell, 27; Chanetta Powell, 25; and Shada Mahone, 26.


Jerry Shelton, Brittany Powell and Chanetta Powell were siblings, and Chanetta was pregnant with a baby due in May, the medical examiner said. Police have ruled the unborn baby's death a homicide—the sixth.

The shooters are still at large, and police have offered a $20,000 reward.

Read more at NBC News and the New York Daily News.

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