PITTSBURGH — Officials say police were asked to be at the funeral service at Destiny of Faith Church in Brighton Heights before five people were shot but the request was not fulfilled, as Target 11′s Rick Earle reported just hours after the shooting happened.
To search this conclusion, personnel who were on duty the day of the shooting were interviewed.
Pittsburgh police say disciplinary action will be issued internally.
Today the acting chief issued a news release apologizing for the inaction.
It’s unclear if the officers made the decision on their own or if they were ordered to another assignment.
“We regret the PBP did not provide the presence asked of us on a difficult day...As not only police officers, but members of this community, we consider this totally unacceptable. It is our hope that the inactions of a few do not reflect negatively on the actions of many,” said Acting Chief Tom Stangrecki.
The mayor of Pittsburgh also sent out a news release, responding to the controversy.
“The community plays a vital role in our work to build peace in our city, and if we want to be successful then we must have strong police-community relationships. Part of being a strong community partner, and a good neighbor, means that we show up when we say we are going to do so. We can’t expect to win the trust of our communities if we don’t respond to the call. At this time we can’t speak to any potential disciplinary actions while the investigation is underway. But do know we will hold those accountable for their actions,” said Mayor Ed Gainey.
The funeral was for John Hornezes Jr., one of the victims in a shooting that happened on Cedar Avenue earlier in October.
Just hours after the shooting, Target 11 spoke with multiple people who expressed frustration that the police were requested but didn’t show. It’s clear some in attendance were anticipating problems and that’s why they requested a police presence.
The funeral was for a man police said was involved in a gun battle with others on the North Side. That shooting killed two innocent bystanders.
Channel 11 spoke with a woman who was at the funeral Friday and she confirmed that people were anxious and on edge.
“One of our trustees said that a couple of women were concerned because they heard the guys talking out there and I got up to go out and right when I got midway, the shooting started,” said the woman.
Target 11 also spoke with Pittsburgh City Councilman Bobby Wilson, who represents the North Side. He plans to introduce a resolution calling for the Department of Public Safety along with the bureau of police to come up with a protocol to deal with the funerals of murder victims. He said that the resolution will likely include other events such as vigils and balloon releases.
“I want everyone to get in the room. I want them to come up with policies, and procedures, around how we can provide safety to the funerals of gun shot victims. Also, any sort of commemorative, event so you have a balloon releases that happen. We need to make sure that the families and friends are safe there. I mean if we know about retaliation that’s going to happen, we should take it seriously. And so that’s why I want everyone to get in a room and come up with policies and procedures,” said Councilman Bobby Wilson.
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