Update (10/31/22): On Oct. 29, Pittsburgh police arrested a 19-year-old McKees Rocks man and a 16-year-old North Side resident, in relation to the shootings. Both were charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault and firearms crimes. The McKees Rocks man also faces conspiracy, drug and firearm charges, and the North Side resident also faces cruelty to animal and tampering with evidence charges. Both are scheduled for preliminary hearings on Nov. 18.

A funeral for a recent gunshot victim was interrupted by an unknown shooter or shooters in Brighton Heights, in an incident that some longtime observers of violence interpreted as retaliation, but also as a reflection of deep and spiraling trauma in some city neighborhoods. 

Six people were injured in the Friday shooting outside the Destiny of Faith Church on Brighton Street. Around noon, ShotSpotter alerted police that five gunshots were heard in the Brighton Heights area. Another 15 gun rounds were heard immediately after, said Pittsburgh Police Major Crimes Commander Richard Ford. 

The funeral ceremony was being held for John James Hornezes, Jr., who was one of three killed in a shooting on Pittsburgh’s North Side on Oct. 15. 

Police carry a casket to a hearse from the Destiny of Faith Church on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in Brighton Heights. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

All six victims were reported in stable condition on Friday afternoon, Ford said. Police said they don’t have suspects and that they are investigating if Friday’s shooting is connected to the Oct.15 shooting. They believe multiple shooters were involved in today’s violence and that it was a targeted shooting.

“I never could have imagined it, that we would shoot up holy ground,” Mayor Ed Gainey said at a 3:30 p.m. press conference. 

Acting Police Chief Tom Stangrecki said at the briefing that the police were “finishing up” processing the scene at that time. 

“This has been one of the most devastating days of my life, I would say,” said Brenda Gregg, the pastor at Destiny of Faith Church, where the shooting took place. She said the church would not close its doors this weekend because “we are here to stand with each other.”

City Councilman Bobby Wilson called the shooting “unacceptable on so many levels” and said the city needs to get out of this “violent phase.”

A 13-year-old named Julia said she was getting off the bus on Brighton Road when she heard gunfire and ran into a nearby Rite Aid, where she said employees locked the doors.  

People try to adjust the front door at the Destiny of Faith Church after a shooting occurred outside a funeral taking place there on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in Brighton Heights. Six people were shot by what police believe are multiple shooters. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

She had no doubt she heard gunshots though she had never heard gunshots in real life before.

In the store, she watched as police surrounded the area.

“After about 10 minutes, they let us out. And when I walked out, I saw a lot of people yelling, a lot of people crying,” Julia said.

Rob Dennis stood near the Destiny of Faith Church, watching as a coffin carried by police was loaded into a hearse. Two police on motorcycles waited in front and then rumbled away with the hearse.

“You see how quiet it is now? It’s always quiet like this. This doesn’t happen here,” he said. “The police had to carry his casket instead of his friends. That’s sad. This is not right.”

Across the street a woman asked police to cross the police line to get some chicken from a store facing the church. Behind Dennis was a playground and further back residential homes covered the rest of the intersection.

Dennis said he was in the area visiting family when he saw posts on his social media about the shooting.

“They had to stop the funeral,” he said. “Some of the loved ones who were here for the funeral service are now at the hospital.”

He continued, “Why? That’s what I want to know. Something like this at a funeral. It’s just sad.”

Tyvin Slater, 70, lifts up the police tape as a funeral limousine leaves the scene of a funeral-turned-mass-shooting at the Destiny of Faith Church on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in Brighton Heights. The funeral of John Hornezes, Jr., one of the victims in the Cedar Avenue shooting on Oct. 15th, was taking place as multiple shooters shot into the crowd gathered outside the church, hitting six people. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

Davonte Johnson, co-founder of the Young Voices Action Collective, told PublicSource that the shooting demonstrates “hurt, pain and distress” within Pittsburgh communities. 

“That a person would feel so internally conflicted and lash out at those things at a church — a place of grief and sacredness. It’s more reflective of the ongoing grief our hoods endure that goes untold,” he added.

Richard Garland, director of the Violence Prevention Initiative at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Health Equity, said the shooting “shows the person or persons have no respect for human life, and it being done at a funeral shows it was done to set an example.”

He noted the persistent and insidious effects of guns, drugs and alcohol on Pittsburgh-area neighborhoods.

He continued: “I fear this will have other shootings in retaliation to follow. … This will cut deep into the souls of families and communities for some time.”

Garland has been involved in anti-violence efforts locally for decades, recently launching a crew of violence interrupters in McKeesport. 

“I will use my resources to see if we can get to the bottom of this issue and hope this doesn’t continue,” he wrote in response to questions from PublicSource, adding that he intends to visit the wounded when possible.

Mayor Ed Gainey speaks to media assembled at the scene of a multiple shooting outside of a funeral the Destiny of Faith Church on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, at the intersection of Benton Avenue and Brighton Road in Brighton Heights. The mayor pleaded with those who are hurt by the day’s events, which include six people being shot at the funeral, to not retaliate tonight and to share with authorities what they know about the incident. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

Gainey pleaded with people who may be driven to retaliate to instead cooperate with police. 

“To go out there and retaliate does not make anything better,” Gainey said. “We don’t want that. We want you alive. If you know something, anything, come forward and say something.”

Dennis Jones, executive director of Youth Enrichment Services, noted that the rationale driving retaliatory acts of gunfire isn’t new, but serves as a sign that Pittsburgh still has work left to do to end the cycle of violence. 

“These individuals respond to a slight, or violent act against them or their family with unmeasured force. Which is why it is so hard to stop,” he wrote in a statement to PublicSource. 

A police officer looks into a car with a shattered window across the street from Destiny of Faith Church along Brighton Road, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, in Brighton Heights. (Photo by Stephanie Strasburg/PublicSource)

He added that these acts of retaliation are why some funeral homes have stopped officiating over services for gun violence victims unless the families provide security measures.

Homicide rates in Pittsburgh have reached a seven-year high, the Tribune-Review reported Thursday. With youth so often in the cross hairs and affected in other direct and indirect ways, neighborhood organizations are trying to break the cycle with healing and preventative practices.

Also slain in the Oct. 15 incident were Betty Averytt, 59, and Jacquelyn Mehalic, 33.

Eric Jankiewicz is PublicSource’s economic development reporter, and can be reached at ericj@publicsource.org or on Twitter @ericjankiewicz.

Amelia Winger is PublicSource’s health reporter with a focus on mental health. She can be reached at amelia@publicsource.org. 

Stephanie Strasburg is a photojournalist with PublicSource who can be reached at stephanie@publicsource.org or on Twitter @stephstrasburg.

Charlie Wolfson is PublicSource’s local government reporter and a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at charlie@publicsource.org or on Twitter @chwolfson.

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Eric Jankiewicz

Eric Jankiewicz is a reporter focused on housing and economic development for PublicSource. A native New Yorker, Eric moved to Pittsburgh in 2017 and has since fallen in love with his adopted city, even...

Amelia Winger is a health reporter for PublicSource, with a focus on mental health. She is telling solutions-oriented stories that combine human experiences with broader context about data and policies....

Stephanie Strasburg

Stephanie Strasburg is a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker at PublicSource. Her recent work includes an investigation on sexual abuse in the Amish and Mennonite communities for which she and her...

Charlie Wolfson is an enterprise reporter for PublicSource, focusing on local government accountability in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. He is also a Report for America corps member. Charlie aims to...