Two men charged in Wilkinsburg shooting that killed six

Wilkinsburg shooting aftermath on March 9

Two men have been charged in the shooting deaths of five people and an unborn child at a March 9 Wilkinsburg cookout, according to an announcement by the Allegheny County District Attorney on Thursday.

Cheron Shelton, 29, of Lincoln-Lemington, and Robert Thomas, 27, of Homewood, were charged in the Franklin Avenue shooting.

Shelton was arrested March 25 on charges of receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm. Thomas was arrested April 5 on an outstanding warrant. Both were already in the Allegheny County Jail before Thursday’s announcement.

The shooting killed five people: Brittany Powell, 27; her sister Chanetta Powell, 25, who was eight months pregnant; the Powells’ brother Jerry Shelton, 35; their cousin Tina Shelton, 37; and a friend, Shada Mahone, 26.

Cheron Shelton was not related to the victims.

According to WTAE:

[Allegheny County District Attorney] Stephen Zappala said Thomas used a .40-caliber pistol to fire 18 shots into about 15 partygoers, prompting them to run for cover toward a rear porch where Shelton, hiding behind a fence, peppered them with 30 shots from a rifle similar to an AK-47.

Zappala said casings from the rifle matched a weapon used by Dana Johnson of Carrick, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Donald Russell of Bethel Park. At the time, the weapon in that case had not been found and the weapons used in the Wilkinsburg shooting have also not been found yet.

Three more were injured in the Wilkinsburg shooting, including John Ellis, who was paralyzed by the shooting, and Lamont Powell, the primary target of the shooting, according to the affidavit. Zappala said the two men had been looking for Powell since the 2013 murder of Calvin Doswell in Lincoln-Lemington. Powell was a suspect in that shooting, according to the criminal complaint.

That case is one of many unsolved homicides in Pittsburgh.

Earlier this year, PublicSource published a series of stories on unsolved homicides in Pittsburgh, like the 2013 Calvin Doswell case. Our map shows many unsolved homicides in the Homewood and Lincoln-Lemington part of the city. We found that 97 percent of Pittsburgh’s unsolved homicides had a black victim, leaving certain communities to disproportionately deal with the grief of losing loved ones.

Reach Eric Holmberg at 412-515-0064 or at eholmberg@publicsource.org. Follow him on Twitter @holmberges.