Two 17-year-olds were killed and several more injured during a shooting at a large party in an Airbnb early Sunday morning in Pittsburgh’s East Allegheny neighborhood.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office identified Mathew Steffy-Ross, of Pitcairn, and Jaiden Brown, as the victims.
Steffy-Ross had been enrolled at Propel Braddock-Hills, according to Sonya Meadows, a spokesperson for Propel. He was in a placement program for students who run into legal problems, she said, so he hadn’t been attending the school. On March 31, he was withdrawn from Propel and enrolled in a non-traditional Christian academy, she said. Propel students are currently on spring break until Wednesday, but Meadows said supports would be in place for students and staff when they return.
Brown was set to graduate from Woodland Hills High School next month, according to KDKA. Woodland Hills says it will be reaching out to those impacted by the violence and will be providing additional counseling supports on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Around 200 people, most of them underage, were reportedly attending a party in a unit rented through Airbnb in the neighborhood, also known as Deutschtown. Gunfire erupted around 12:30 a.m. Pittsburgh police have said there was likely more than one shooter and between 50 and 90 rounds discharged during the event.
“It was mayhem,” one witness told The Trib. No arrests have yet been made.
Allegheny Health Network has reported it treated seven victims and UPMC reported it has treated two additional victims. One of the victims at AHN remained in serious condition as of Monday morning; four victims were discharged, according to the Post Gazette. Some of the injuries were sustained while trying to get away from the gunfire; some jumped out of windows.
There have been more shootings this year in Pittsburgh than last year, according to a Pittsburgh-Post Gazette analysis. The Post-Gazette also reported that, based on video footage nearby, Pittsburgh police appeared to have been at the scene of the party earlier in the night.
“At least 10 gunshot victims, two lives lost, and hundreds of lives forever changed, because we have yet to pass meaningful legislation to lessen the amount of guns in our streets or provide the much-needed resources to communities desperately need,” Mayor Ed Gainey said in a statement on Monday. Gainey said he would be calling a meeting to unveil his administration’s new “All In Citywide” approach to gun violence. Gainey’s campaign emphasized the need for reducing gun violence.
A Pittsburgh Public Schools spokesperson said four of the injured students attended PPS schools and that the district would be in modified lockdown on Monday, only allowing visitors who have been scheduled in advance. In January, a Pittsburgh student was shot outside Oliver Academy.
“We know that incidents like this can cause residual pain and require ongoing healing,” said Wayne Walters, interim superintendent of PPS, in an emailed statement. “If your child requires services, grief counseling, or assistance, please contact your school’s social worker.”
Michelle Porter, the director of One Northside, told PublicSource in an interview Monday that she had just met with the Zone 1 police commander last week and they had commented on how “things had been pretty calm.” One Northside had implemented a new safety program at Perry High School after a large fight at the beginning of the school year.
“The mass shooting that occurred last night at an Airbnb party in East Deutschtown does not reflect that neighborhood at all,” said City Councilor Bobby Wilson in a statement.
In 2019, State Rep. Jessica Benham, then the secretary of the Zone 3 safety council on the South Side, talked about the problem of shootings and parties at Airbnb properties in the city. There were two shootings at Airbnb properties in the summer of 2019. During one of those shootings, a 17-year-old and a 20-year-old died.
Benham said at a 2019 meeting in Brookline that a South Side Slopes Airbnb party near her house included a $20 entrance fee, about 50 people drinking outside and strippers. The guests were taking up scarce parking spots on her street. Benham said at the meeting that one legislative option for the city could be to limit how many properties a person could list on Airbnb to prevent absentee landlords. Benham said she called the property owner of one of her nearby Airbnb nuisance properties and said the owner was unaware of the problem because it was a tenant who had made the Airbnb listing.
Airbnb has been criticized by former employees for not doing more to limit violence at its properties. Parties are prohibited but enforcement is limited. Airbnb said it would ban the person who rented the venue for life and said it is cooperating with the Pittsburgh police investigation.
The owner of the property at Madison Avenue and Suismon Street is 900 North Group LLC, which is registered to a Whitehall residence 10 miles away.
According to Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, 18% of homes in the Deutschtown neighborhood are owner-occupied and 58% are rentals and 24% are vacant.
Oliver Morrison is PublicSource’s K-12 education reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ORMorrison.
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