40 homicides reported this year in Pittsburgh; officials fear number will climb higher before 2023

PITTSBURGH — Violent crime in the city of Pittsburgh is surging. To date, there have been 40 homicides in the city alone, and that number is outpacing the entirety of 2019, which saw 39 murders — and there are still several months left in the year.

“Just don’t forget about mine. That’s all I’m asking,” said Donald Hammond, who lost his son to gun violence earlier this year.

Donald Hammond Sr. says on April 16, 2022, his entire life changed when his son Donald Jr. was killed in the city’s Woods Run neighborhood. The Hammond family just one of the many families touched by gun violence this year.

“(The police) said they know who did it, but they don’t have nobody to point him out,” said Hammond.

Hammond said not a day goes by that he does not think of his son, and he yearns for justice for his murder.

In regard to his son’s cold case, Hammond said, “This a warm one; this one is hot. Solve it.”

This year, there have been 40 murders, and community leaders fear that the city is on track to outpace the homicides in 2019, 2020 and even 2021, when the city saw 51 killings.

“Thirty-eight percent of homicides are solved. The rest of it is cold cases,” said Rashad Byrdsong, the CEO of Community Empowerment Association.

Byrdsong, a longtime community activist, said that the city must begin to address gun violence as a public health crisis, and only then will the killings stop.

“We are looking at violence as a disease; the CDC says it’s a disease,” added Byrdsong .

Byrdsong says it is two-fold: Address the underlying social determinants like poverty, healthcare access, and food security and build trust by solving cases.

“That’s why it’s so important that we have all the players come to the table,” said Byrdsong.

Cases like Donald Hammond Jr.’s murder.

“It’s been 92 days. Just solve my son’s murder, please,” asked Hammond.

The Community Empowerment Association will host a community town hall on July 30 to discuss the public health approach they feel is needed to begin healing in the city.

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