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Mayor Gainey confirms there was intelligence of possible violence at Brighton Heights funeral

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Police use tape to block off a street in Bright Heights where a shooting happened outside a funeral at Destiny of Faith Church on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022.

On today’s episode of The Confluence: 

Mayor Gainey confirms there were reports that the funeral in Brighton Heights could have been a target for violence
(0:00 - 10:13)

Five people were shot and another injured last Friday outside the Destiny of Faith church in Brighton Heights, where a funeral was being held.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey confirmed that there were advance reports that the funeral could be a target for violence. But he said he couldn't go into further detail because the incident is under investigation.

WESA's Kevin Gavin asked Gainey if he could confirm that two police officers had been assigned to the funeral and then pulled away.

Gainey said," Well that's the investigation... I'm not going to confirm or deny anything until I have all the facts."

Police have arrested two people they say were involved in the shooting, Hezekiah Nixon, 16, of the North Side, and Shawn Davis, 19, of McKees Rocks.

“We all have to play a part in finding out what these guns [are] coming from,” Gainey explains. “It's not about whether the community trusts police or distrusts police. Right now, it's about saving our children and that's what we're focused on.”

Gainey says there will be an increased police presence in the Brighton Heights neighborhood and “trauma forces” in the community to work with residents.

Allegheny County’s Police Review Board can begin work
(10:19 - 17:02)

A year and a half since it was created, eight of the nine seats on the Allegheny County Independent Police Review Board are filled, and it can begin working.

However, the only police force the board is overseeing so far is the county police department, says Charlie Wolfson, who covers local government for PublicSource.

“It’s a big question mark how many [police departments] ... will end up involved [in the oversight],” says Wolfson.

Originally created to investigate complaints about police officers under its jurisdiction and make disciplinary recommendations, the board can only act if individual municipalities opt into its oversight.

Judge rules advocates for Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh merger must use a different process
(17:06 - 22:30)

Last week, an Allegheny County judgedismissed the third attempt to annex the Borough of Wilkinsburg into the City of Pittsburgh. Advocates were hoping to put the question to Wilkinsburg voters on the spring 2023 ballot.

In his two-page opinion, Judge Joseph James ruled that the 1903 annexation law, requiring Wilkinsburg voters and Pittsburgh City Council to approve the annexation, was effectively repealed after the state legislature ratified the current state Constitution in 1968. At that time, state lawmakers were supposed to set uniform procedures for annexation and merger by April 1970, but that didn’t happen.

Judge James ruled because lawmakers never set these procedures, the 1903 law wasn’t valid. WESA reporter Kiley Koscinski explains there can still be a petition to merge the borough with the city, but a different approach must be taken.

“Instead, what you need to use is the initiative process, which would require a petition of Pittsburgh voters and Wilkinsburg voters, and they would both have a say on whether the two municipalities merge,” says Koscinski.

Koscinski says the group behind this effort, Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation, has yet to respond to the ruling.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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