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6 people injured in Brighton Heights shooting outside funeral for man killed recently on North Side

A cordoned-off street in Brighton Heights following a shooting on Oct. 28, 2022
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Police cordoned off this and other streets in Brighton Heights following a shooting on Oct. 28, 2022

Pittsburgh Police said six people were injured just after noon Friday when gunfire erupted at a church in Brighton Heights where a funeral was underway for a man shot to death earlier this month on the North Side.

Police initially said all of the victims were shot but later revised that, saying five people were shot and a sixth was hurt while trying to escape. Five people were treated at Allegheny General Hospital, including one person who initially was listed in critical condition. All were in stable condition as of late Friday afternoon. A sixth person was taken to UPMC Children's Hospital after the shooting, which Acting Police Chief Thomas Stangrecki termed "a horrendous incident."

"We're doing all we can to identify those responsible for this shooting and to hold them accountable," Stangrecki said during a late-afternoon news conference near the church.

Also speaking near the church, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey called on residents with information about the shooting to work with investigators.

“We need to make sure that this never happens again, and we will be working around the clock to do whatever’s necessary to apprehend those who did this heinous thing today," Gainey said.

His voice raised with emotion, Gainey condemned the shooters who "[shot] up holy ground" and acknowledged the anger and hurt they have caused for the families and loved ones of the wounded. But he urged people with information about the shooters to share it with investigators rather than take matters into their own hands.

"I know that there's a lot of families and friends hurting right now. A lot of them feel like they should do something. I want to do something with you," the mayor said. "They shot up the sanctuary today. ... [But] to go out there and retaliate doesn’t make anything better. We want you alive. If you know something, come forward and say something.

"We need you. We need you today, We need to make sure this never happens again," he added. "Please don't retaliate. Communicate."

A former member of the state House of Representatives, Gainey also called on state lawmakers to enact stronger gun regulations.

"When we start getting tough on guns, then we get tough on crimes. Help us get these guns off the streets," he urged legislators in Harrisburg.

The funeral service was being held at the Destiny of Faith Church for 20-year-old John Hornezes, who was one of three people killed on Saturday, Oct. 15 in a shooting at the Sunoco gas station on Cedar Avenue in Deutschtown. Police identified two other women killed in that shooting as innocent victims and said earlier this week that Hornezes was the likely target. No arrests have been made in that shooting.

Police Cmdr. Richard Ford, who oversees the major crimes unit, said multiple shooters opened fire at Destiny of Faith on Friday, and police had reason to believe multiple people attending the funeral were targeted in the shooting. He would not comment on a possible motive or suspects.

Reports of the shooting at the church sent police from the city, Allegheny County and Pittsburgh Regional Transit departments as well as Allegheny County Sheriff's deputies swarming to the neighborhood and nearby Allegheny General Hospital in response.

Police obtained video of the incident as well. Ford said they will maintain a strong presence in the neighborhood.

Pittsburgh Public Schools were scheduled for a half-day of classes Friday when the gunfire began. Police later alerted the schools that it was safe to dismiss students.

Earlier, the department advised the public to avoid the area. Brighton Road was closed between Termon and Benton avenues for hours.

In addition to the Destiny of Faith Church, the 3700 block of Brighton Road includes a senior-citizen high-rise, a Rite-Aid pharmacy and multiple homes.

The Rev. Dr. Brenda J. Gregg, the senior pastor of Destiny of Faith, said she was in the church pulpit while participating in the funeral. From where she stood inside the church when the shooting began, it was hard to tell whether gunshots were coming from the street or inside the sanctuary, she said.

"This has been one of the most devastating days of my life," said Gregg, a pastor for more than 30 years. "I am very thankful to God that we have not lost anyone."

Gregg also expressed gratitude to first responders and hospital workers who cared for wounded congregants, and she asked for prayers for members of her congregation. She also vowed that the church would reopen Saturday for a planned harvest festival and on Sunday for scheduled worship.

"This is a scene that doesn't make sense for any of us. We have to turn this thing around," she said. "We are here [in the community] to help. We are not going to close the doors. We are here to help."

The shooting at Destiny of Faith came one day after Pittsburghers gathered to remember the 11 people who died and honor the six people who were injured as well as the first responders who aided them four years earlier when an antisemitic gunman invaded services at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Cindi Lash also contributed to this report.

Updated: October 29, 2022 at 9:08 AM EDT
This story was updated to reflect that five people were shot and a sixth was hurt while trying to escape.
Updated: October 28, 2022 at 5:16 PM EDT
This story was updated to include additional information from police as well as reaction from Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and the Rev. Dr. Brenda J. Gregg, senior pastor of Destiny of Faith Church.
Jillian Forstadt is an education reporter at 90.5 WESA. Before moving to Pittsburgh, she covered affordable housing, homelessness and rural health care at WSKG Public Radio in Binghamton, New York. Her reporting has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA and 91.3 WYEP, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community.
Patrick Doyle oversees WESA's digital strategy and products. Previously, he served as WESA's news director. Email: