Six people were injured amid a spray of gunfire outside a Pittsburgh church Friday as a funeral service was underway for a shooting victim, authorities said.
At least 15 shots rang out just before noon near the Destiny of Faith Church in Pittsburgh’s Northside neighborhood of Brighton Heights, leaving one person in critical condition, Pittsburgh public safety officials said.
“Anybody that would precipitate this type of violence, there’s no justification for that,” Pittsburgh Bureau of Police major crimes commander Richard Ford said at a news conference. Authorities were investigating a motive Friday, Ford said.
A livestreamed funeral service for John James Hornezes Jr. captured the moment attendees inside the church scattered and screamed as gunshots were heard. Hornezes Jr., 20, was one of three victims shot and killed in Pittsburgh on Oct. 15, TV station Action News 4 reported.
About an hour and a half into the service, a mourner — who was standing next to Hornezes’ casket — was reading his obituary to the crowd and listing off the schools he attended when gunshots could be heard echoing in the church, the livestreamed footage shows. Masked mourners looked back toward the church entrance and hopped up from their seats, the video shows. A musician on stage huddled behind a wall, eyes wide with fear.
“What is happening?” a person could be heard saying amid the shouting and chaos before the video cuts off.
Four victims took themselves to a nearby hospital while medics transported two additional victims. All victims were in stable condition Friday, said acting Pittsburgh police chief Thomas Stangrecki.
Authorities have not released information on a possible suspect. Ford said the shooting appeared to be targeted.
“We believe there’s a dispute going on. We’re looking into that and we’re going to utilize all resources as we have been doing currently, and will continue to do,” Ford said.
Pittsburgh mayor Ed Gainey acknowledged the pain of those in the community and urged them not to retaliate with more gun violence. “(It) doesn’t make anything better,” Gainey said.
Likely more than one gunman fired shots, according to Ford, who added that investigators were working to determine whether shots were fired from a vehicle and whether all gunfire happened outside of the church.
Destiny of Faith Church Rev. Brenda Gregg called the incident “one of the most devastating days” of her life.
“We’re not going to close the doors, we are here to help each other,” Gregg said at a news conference. “We’re here to stand with each other.”
The shooting happened nearly four years after a mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. Eleven people were killed in the deadliest antisemitic attack in the U.S. on Oct. 27, 2018.
Pittsburgh’s Jewish community held its annual honoring of the victims in a Thursday ceremony with music, prayers and candle-lighting. (USAToday)