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Police: Pittsburgh baby killed in drive-by shooting

Image by Simaah from Pixabay
Image by Simaah from Pixabay

May 30 (UPI) -- Authorities said an 18-month-old baby riding in a vehicle was fatally shot in broad daylight during a drive-by shooting at a Pittsburgh intersection.

The child was inside a vehicle Sunday afternoon when struck by a bullet that was intended for someone else, assistant chief of investigations Lavonnie Bickerstaff told reporters during a press conference Sunday evening.

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"This was a targeted incident," she said. "These individuals were after not so much, of course, the 18-month-old baby, but there was an individual in the car that they targeted."

She did not say whom they think the target was other than it was neither the victim nor the victim's mother who was also in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.

Pittsburg police said in a release that the shooting occurred at around 2:44 p.m. in the 100 block of Fourth Avenue.

The child, who has been identified as DeAery Thomas by the Allegheny County medical examiner's office, was pronounced dead at the scene by responding medics, officials said.

Bickerstaff said a black Jeep officials believe the unknown number of suspects used in the shooting has been recovered and that the investigation is active and ongoing.

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"Our thoughts and our prayers are with the family of this victim this evening and I grieve the thought of another young life being taken in the city," Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said. "At the same time, I know that thoughts and prayers are not enough. We're utilizing all available resources to find the responsible people so we can bring them to justice and begin the healing for this family."

Gainey called on the public to pray for the family and for anyone with information about the shooting to contact the authorities.

The mayor said the nation was facing an "epidemic" of gun violence, which in his city was being perpetrated by a "small number of extremely violent individuals."

A formal summary of the city's efforts to fight gun violence will be released next week, he said, while Bickerstaff said the problem stems from too many weapons in too many hands.

"There's just too many guns out there," she said. "And it has a lot to do with irresponsible gun ownership, straw purchases, especially here in the city of Pittsburgh, and guns making their way to the hands of young people."

Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, said in a statement that his prayer's are with the victim's family but that they "must do more than offer thoughts and prayers.

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"We need to address the gun violence epidemic by passing commonsense gun laws and investing in community violence intervention programs," he tweeted.

According a database of gun violence kept by the city, Pittsburgh has seen 616 shots fired this year, compared to 3,889 for all of last year.

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