PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert appeared at a news conference this morning with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to address juvenile gun violence.
The city launched a joint initiative with the ATF last year to track the origin of all guns found on juveniles. The results of the study confirmed what most in law enforcement had suspected. Half the guns were stolen, either from homes or cars. 13% were from straw purchases, where someone else purchased the gun, and 9% were privately made, or so-called ghost guns.
“Juvenile gun crime being so prevalent, we wanted to determine where these young people were obtaining their firearms,” said Matthew Varisco, special agent in charge of the ATF.
Authorities at the news conference urged legal gun owners to take extra steps to make sure their weapons are secured.
“I cannot express how important responsible gun ownership is, and we’re calling on the public to make sure that they utilize common sense to secure their firearms in their homes and not to secure them in vehicles,” said Varisco.
The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pa., Cindy Chung, echoed that plea for help.
“A simple, effective and very important step is to simply secure your firearm,” said Chung.
Chief Scott Schubert went one step further, calling on anyone who knows a juvenile carrying a gun to come forward immediately.
“People need to step forward, people need to let us know if somebody has a gun because a lot of people do. A lot of people know people that are carrying, whether it’s friends, whether it’s classmates, whether it’s family members. We got to get those guns out of their hands because it’s eventually going to turn into somebody getting shot and killed,” said Schubert.
Schubert was also asked about the latest in the ongoing investigation into the mass shooting at that Airbnb party on the Northside last weekend. Two teens were killed and nine others wounded when more than 100 shots were fired by multiple shooters carrying handguns and even one AR-15 style rifle. The party was mostly attended by juveniles.
The chief was asked if any suspects or persons of interest have been identified.
“I can just tell you that our detectives are working diligently to put it together. And our goal is bring the people to justice for what they did, and I’m confident our detectives will do that,” said Schubert, who declined to say how many guns were involved.
Schubert did tell Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle earlier this week that multiple hand guns along with an AR-15 style rifle were used to fire more than 100 rounds inside and outside the party.
Schubert, who earlier in the week said some witnesses had come forward and were cooperating with police, said today that he was concerned about the focus on social media in the hours after the shooting.
“After this past tragic shooting, we had more people putting things on social media than calling the police. That’s a problem,” said the Chief.
Schubert was also asked about the prevalence of guns in society and if this problem of juvenile gun violence is insurmountable.
“I don’t thinks so. I think if we can come together, everybody, and stop pointing fingers at everybody who’s responsible and become part of the action to fix it. I think we can. People got to say enough is enough. I mean their kids are dying, family members, friends. You know schools are hurting because people they know have been gunned down. We got to step forward,” said Schubert.
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