ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — On Tuesday, the Greater Valley Coalition Against Violence held their monthly meeting, during which the group addressed the recent mass shooting in Pittsburgh that claimed the lives of Jaiden Brown and Mathew Steffy-Ross.
“It’s been a heavy couple of days,” said Lee Davis, who mentored both boys.
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The coalition regularly meets to develop initiatives to reduce gun violence. On Tuesday, a handful of faith-based, political, mental health and anti-violence groups were in attendance, including Helping Out Our People, a coalition of families from the Woodland Hills school district that have lost children to gun violence.
CeaseFirePA was also in attendance.
“This past weekend I’m seeing in the news … that there was a long gun used at the shooting on the Northside,” said Josh Fleitman with CeaseFirePA. “I always want to point out under state law, as it is right now, you do not need a background check to purchase a long gun through a private seller. That is a big gap in our state law that allows these weapons of war that are extremely lethal.”
Woodland Hills interim superintendent Dr. Daniel Castagna was invited by the coalition to their latest meeting. Brown was a student in his district.
Following the meeting he offered this statement to Channel 11:
“It is one thing to hear a story and it’s another to sit in a room with mothers who lost children to gun violence and listen to their struggle and mission. Tonight brought together mothers and fathers who act like first responders to violence and provide immediate supports to families and help to reduce the impacts of retaliations. The Woodland Hills school district recognizes the important role of these school-community relationships, and we will work tirelessly to foster this collaboration. I left tonight with true hope that we can be the change.”
Davis, who knew both Brown and Steffy-Ross, told Channel 11 both boys will be dearly missed.
“I know their families. I have been working with them to help them get through this process of dealing with what’s going on,” said Davis.
The coalition explained that Tuesday’s meeting was to also get ahead of whatever retaliation may follow Sunday’s shooting.
“It’s just doesn’t stop — there is revenge and all types of things that may come from that, so we have to put people all over the city to get in front of those issues,” said Davis.
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