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Homicide Deaths In Pittsburgh Continue To Drop, But Officials Say There's Still Work To Be Done

Kathleen J. Davis
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich speaks at a press conference on 2018 homicide deaths on Monday, January 14, 2019.

There were 55 homicide deaths in Pittsburgh last year, most due to gun violence. Despite the Tree of Life shooting in October, in which 11 people were killed by one gunman, homicide deaths dropped for the fourth year in a row.

Non-fatal shootings decreased last year by 19 percent, from 140 to 114. 

Pittsburgh Public Safety director Wendell Hissrich attributed the drops to better relationships between community and police, as well as technology like security cameras and gunshot detector ShotSpotter.

"However, there's still much work to be done," Hissrich said.

Reported gunshots also dropped in 2018, from 2,148 to 1,858. Vic Joseph, the major crimes commander, said he's anticipating that number will rise in 2019—not because of more violence, but because the city is installing more gunshot-detection technology.

"It's a more accurate accounting of it and it's going to get our officers to potential victims faster," Joseph said.

Despite the drops in all reported categories, Mayor Bill Peduto said the statistics still aren't good enough.

"Our goal as our true north is to eradicate gun violence within our city," Peduto said. "And that's why we're taking actions like the bills that are before City Council."

The legislation would ban assault-style rifles and some types of accessories and ammunition in Pittsburgh, though enacting those restrictions would be a violation of state law.