Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Monsters among Us: Wilkinsburg Massacre

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Monsters among Us: Wilkinsburg Massacre

Article excerpt

Ever since the mass shooting in Wilkinsburg last week, there has been much gnashing of teeth about the nature of evil. Not wishing to undermine their investigation, Allegheny County homicide detectives are understandably tight-lipped about what leads they may have. Speculating in the media about what motivated two gunmen to murder five adults and an unborn child and attempt to murder three others is the last thing those dedicated to apprehending them want to do.

After nearly a week of outrage and mourning, the first funerals are finally being officiated. Curbside vigils have already taken place. Flowers, stuffed animals and letters honoring the victims have turned up at the site where they were murdered on an unseasonably warm March evening.

In accordance with some grim, unspoken routine, images from church sanctuaries filled with outraged members of the community lead the evening news. Like clockwork, the relatives, friends and neighbors of the victims were captured in various stages of grief making impassioned pleas for an end to the violence. In their anguish, they became the most familiar of strangers as they invited us into deeper communion with their pain.

As usual, promises that they would succeed in stopping the violence this time if everyone does their share fell from the lips of clergy, community leaders and politicians eager to appear proactive in the face of so much death. It is an audacious promise given all that we don't know about the shooting.

Are the killers from the neighborhood or from some other place? Could the killings in Wilkinsburg be the result of a massive case of mistaken identity, a lover's quarrel, an illicit deal gone wrong, a petty vendetta nursed to a homicidal extreme or something even more terrifying: the random murder of strangers by two men - or boys with zero capacity for empathy?

The killers shot everyone who was present at the cookout that night. If the yard had been filled with twice as many people, would they have continued pulling the trigger? How were they able to suppress what should be a natural revulsion at killing humans long enough to shoot as many as they did? …

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