WTAE-TV (Pittsburgh), Nov. 19, 2010
A scene that witnesses described as nothing short of chaotic erupted in downtown Pittsburgh on Friday night when shots were fired during Light Up Night.
Channel 4 Action News’ Ari Hait reported that several riots continued to break out throughout the evening, specifically at Sixth and Wood streets. About 100 people were involved in fights in that area, police said.
Hait reported seeing 35 to 50 people in handcuffs.
“Everyone starts screaming and there’s like a million cops and we’re just looking and, like, all these people come running out of the building,” said witness Anna Suehr.
Police said a man in his 20s was found shot in the groin at the corner of Smithfield Street and Liberty Avenue shortly before 9 p.m. He was reported in stable condition at UPMC Mercy.
Investigators are not certain if the shooting was self-inflicted, according to a police news release.
Police searched for a suspect and witnesses while trying to direct people away from the scene, but a series of fights then broke out nearby. Officers were called from all over the city to respond with the help of K-9 units.
Four juveniles were cited for disorderly conduct and were released to their parents; one juvenile was bitten by a K9 and was transported to a local hospital for treatment; and one person was detained to be interviewed regarding the shooting, police said.
Pittsburgh’s annual Light Up Night celebration is supposed to be a night of family fun and entertainment in downtown that kicks off the holiday season.
However, Friday evening’s festivities were marred by violent scenes.
Officials say one young woman was arrested for attacking another woman in front of police. There were other arrests for fighting as well.
A woman who did not want to be identified was a few feet away when the shooting happened. She said she was boarding a bus with two small children at the time.
“They were scared, especially the 10-year-old. I think the 4-year-old wasn’t really quite sure what was happening. He knew that there was a gunshot because everybody was talking about it on the bus. The 10-year-old kept telling me how scared he was,” she said. “It’s such a shame because this is such a fun event for families. For something like this to happen, you got to wonder, should I go downtown or not.”
But Holly Geitner, with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, wanted to assure the public that downtown Pittsburgh is a safe place to visit.
What happened last night, as we understand, it was a very isolated incident,” said Geitner. “The location of where things happened was pretty far removed from where we had the event programmed and planned.”
“We have taken every measure that we can foresee to ensure the safety of everybody that comes down to enjoy tonight’s festivities,” added Pittsburgh Police Sgt. James Vogel.