ZAVIAWNA GATHERS DIED IN 2021.
Nearly four weeks since a mass shooting on Pittsburgh’s North Side on Easter Sunday shook the region, made national headlines and left two teens lifeless, there are still no arrests.
Nine months after the senseless shooting death of 26-year-old Zaviawna Gathers in Wilkinsburg, her family is pleading for answers as to who killed her. Police have made no arrests.
And just recently, a triple shooting in the Allentown neighborhood on Monday, May 9, left a 17-year-old dead. Pittsburgh Police have no suspect descriptions. Homicide detectives in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and elsewhere will tell you they are committed to solving these and other heinous crimes. This is no TV show, like A&E’s “The First 48.” Even after the first 48 hours are over following a homicide, detectives in this region tirelessly work their homicide cases.
Pittsburgh Police reported to the New Pittsburgh Courier on May 10 that of the 27 homicide cases in the city so far in 2022, there is a 31 percent “clearance rate,” meaning a suspect has been apprehended and charged. In 2021, of the city’s 56 homicides, the clearance rate was 55 percent.
In 2020, about half of all murders in the U.S. were “cleared,” according to data processed by Princeton University and reported by the Marshall Project. That number has dropped significantly since the early 1980s, when the clearance rate was 70 percent.
“We expect clearance rates to rise just like what occurred last year as we are able to work the cases to conclusion and subsequent approval by the DA for warrants,” said Pittsburgh Police Assistant Chief Lonnie Bickerstaff, in a statement to the Courier, May 10. She heads up Investigations for Major Crimes. “Major Crimes detectives are committed to solving each and every case and finding justice for families. We are thankful to the community for helping us in that effort because we cannot do this alone.”
NICOLE DAILEY DIED IN 2017.
As detectives work cases, vigils and remembrances continue throughout the region. In November 2021, family and friends held a remembrance for Nicole Dailey, who was shot and killed in the summer of 2017 while holding her baby on the North Side. Still, no suspects have been arrested.
Dayton Vickers, age 15, was shot and killed in broad daylight on March 30 in Homewood. Hundreds came out to celebrate his life days later at the corner of N. Homewood and Frankstown avenues. No suspects have been arrested.
And for the family of Gathers, it’s a feeling no family should ever have to endure.
“My baby girl, she was loved by a lot of people,” Gathers’ mother, Latoya Gathers, said during a press conference at Allegheny County Police headquarters, March 25. “The person killed my baby in front of her 7-year-old daughter, in front of my grandbaby. If anyone knows anything, what happened to her, you should say something. It’s been too long for my daughter to be in the grave and I don’t know why. She was only 26 years old. She didn’t deserve this at all.”
Standing by the family’s side was Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, who is the uncle of Zaviawna Gathers. “I always say that it’s about us as a community; that if we’re really going to make our community safe, it’s about how we stand up for the community. It’s about how we stand up and talk about what’s going on. We have to stand together.”
Mayor Gainey said that more people are beginning to talk about those responsible for the homicides in Pittsburgh’s Black communities, but that momentum must continue.
“I’m here to talk about my niece, but let me say this—to anybody out there that has lost a loved one, and you know that loved one is going through something, and you know something that would help the case…tell somebody. Talk about it. Continue to stand as a community. Together we can solve this. Together we can help one another. That’s the only way we’re going to stop what’s going on today.”