Community gathering around family of 1-year-old killed in East Hills

PITTSBURGH — The East Hills community is gathering around a family torn apart by gun violence as authorities continue their search for the shooters.

One-year-old Marcus White Jr. was killed and his two aunts were injured during a shooting Tuesday night in Pittsburgh’s East Hills neighborhood.

A memorial of stuffed animals and balloons has been started for the baby at the scene of the shooting, and a Walk Against Violence has been planned for Sunday, June 3.

The walk was organized by Letitia Walker, who said her heart stopped when she heard about the shooting.

She said that all she could think about following the shooting was her children, and that although she doesn’t know the victims’ family, felt compelled to reach out.

“It's a community effort for us to come together to get guns off the street, out of the hands of those individuals who commit senseless acts of violence,” said Walker.

The walk will also be used to raise money for the Baby Marcus Fund, organized by Raukeem Hawkins.

Donations from almost 200 people have raised nearly $4,000 for Marcus’ mother Jameela Tyler.

Hawkins said, “I just want to see a smile on her face because, you know, it's going to be hard for her to smile for the next few days. With what the mother is going through, we want to put that smile back on her face.”

“We just want people to know there are a lot more activities and things out here to do and get involved in rather than trying to hurt each other,” he said.

Tyler has planned a candlelight vigil for her son Friday night in the East Hills.

Chili’s in Fox Chapel is holding a fundraiser for the family Sunday.

Police in Allegheny County said the gunfire was reported at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday during a picnic at a home on East Hills Drive.

A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said “I was outside with my daughter. We heard shots. At first I thought it was firecrackers, and everyone started running.”

Lt. Richard Pritchard told Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE that the boy was pronounced dead at UPMC Children's Hospital.

Tyler told Channel 11 News that her son was at the picnic with her sisters.

“My sisters are laying up there in the hospital blaming themselves for having him there. But it wasn’t their fault and I want whoever did this to turn themselves in. It’s not cool and I’m hurt. I’m trying to be strong, but it hurts,” Tyler said.

Pritchard said a woman shot in the back was taken to a hospital in critical condition and the other victim is in stable condition.

“They're in my prayers. I love you so much. It's just heartbreaking to lose a loved one,” said relative Trayshoa McGinniss.

Investigators said the gunfire came from three men who got out of a car and started shooting at the crowd. Detectives said they don’t believe the victims were the intended targets.

Police haven’t released any other details about potential suspects or a motive.

Councilman Ricky Burgess met with community groups Wednesday to discuss ideas to stop violence within the community.

“It's a small group of people who are hyperactive, and we're here to figure out a strategy that focuses on perpetrators of the victims,” Burgess said.

Burgess said that increased security cameras and security guards could be used to combat the problem.

Channel 11’s Jennifer Tomazic reported that, since December, police have received calls reporting shots fired on East Hills Drive six times.

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