A vigil was held Thursday to mark one year since the mass shooting in Wilkinsburg that left five adults and an unborn child dead.
The victims were among 15 people attending a backyard cookout at a home on Franklin Avenue when Cheron Shelton and Robert Thomas allegedly approached from the alley and started shooting, police said.
Jerry Shelton, Tina Shelton, Brittany Powell, Chanetta Powell and Shada Mahone all died. Chanetta Powell was eight months pregnant at the time. Her unborn child also died.
Community members gathered in song and prayer at the scene of the shooting Thursday evening to remember the victims.
“We wanted to tell the story of all the good that has come out of this tragedy, how people have really pulled together,” Christian Church of Wilkinsburg Rev. Janet Hellner-Burris said.
Jessica Shelton, the mother of three of the victims, did not attend the vigil, but did issue the following statement to Channel 11 News:
"I just want (to) let my children RIP. (I) don't want to focus on that horrible day. I appreciate all that want to tribute to March 9, but that day changed my whole life. Knowing that I won't have my children with me from that day on, (I) don't want my grandchildren to remember what took place on that day.”
John Ellis and Lamont Powell survived the shooting. The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office said Powell was the primary target.
Ellis spoke with Channel 11 News on Thursday about the shooting that has left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Ellis said he lived next door to the home on Franklin Avenue and had stopped by the cookout to grab a bite to eat. He was shot three times and said he can still hear the popping sound of the gun.
"I feel something hit me, but I really didn't pay attention. But I heard the pop, another pop and then another shot. I thought somebody is shooting, and I had already got shot three times,” he said.
Ellis said he spends most of his time now in bed in the basement of his parents’ home, but he’s determined to walk again.
Aleta Livsey, Ellis’ mother, said his spirit is what helps her cope with her only child’s situation.
"He's tough. He has a very positive attitude. You wouldn't think, but he's great,” Livsey said.
Ellis said despite a year having passed, he still hurts, knowing so many lives were cut short.
"It just hurts me that that happened to them,” he said.
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