|Posted by Elwin Green on September 17, 2013 at 1:45 AM|
The scene at Mt. Vernon Street and Lang Ave. last night.
Last night, at 9:23 pm, I received a text from a neighbor: "I'm standing over my grandson's body."
The texter was Carol Speaks, whom I first got to know as a fellow class member of the Citizens Leadership Initiative, a training offered by Coro Pittsburgh.
She said she was on Mt. Vernon Street, near Lang Avenue. I went over. When I went up Lang, Carol was speaking with a TV newswoman. I got to Mt. Vernon, and there, midway in the block, was the body of 19-year-old Antwann D. Smith, shot dead by a person or persons unknown.
Besides television coverage, the story made the Post-Gazette. I'll be back later with a more in-depth piece.
For now, I want to take note of another death. A member of the Homewood diaspora passed away on Sept. 7.
Rocco Nardozzo died the day after suffering a stroke. He was 82. He grew up in Homewood before doing a stint in the military after the Korean War and comking back to settle in Hazelwood, then Munhall.
Mr. Nardozzo's obituary story in the Post-Gazette reminds us that Homewood was once an Italian neighborhood.
Maybe the Homewood Chamber of Commerce or the Homewood Arts and Culture Commission should sponsor a Homewood Homecoming someday for all those who families have roots - Italian, Irish, German - in Homewood.
Someday. First we need to make Homewood safe.
Antwann Smith will not live to be 82, or even 28. Rocco Nardozzo's obituary does not list a string of outstanding achievements or great awards. But he lived. He worked. He provided. He loved. For 82 years. As simple as his obituary is, in order for Antwann Smith's obituary to match it, it would have be mostly written in the negative. He didn't build a career, He didn't raise a family. He didn't...
He didn't bless the world with his gifts and abilities the way that he might have, if he had simply lived.
None of us will ever know what all of us have lost.
Yesterday afternoon, I heard a police siren, followed the cruiser by looking out a couple of different windows, and saw that it stopped at Race Street and Homewood Avenue, in front of Warden's Funeral Home. I went down to take a look. There were four police cars at the corner, but all I saw happening was one or two of the officers talking with a young man with a backpack.
I called Michael Aldrich, the owner of Warden's, to make sure that he and his were okay. He hadn't even realized anything was happening, so he came out to speak the police.
By that time, I think, they had let the young man go on his way. As it turned out, someone had called police because he was in a fistfight. As the officers dispersed, a couple of them spoke with Mr. Aldrich and me. We all agreed that these days a fistfight is a good thing. Much to be preferred over shooting.
Less than 10 hours later, Antwann Smith was dead.
Maybre we need to teach our boys the value of a good fistfight. Maybe we need to expose them, and ourselves, the adults in the community, to the tenets of the Quakers. I don't know. But I do know this.
We've GOT TO find ways to end this. NOW.
Here's a reminder of a meeting tonight for Homewood residents that is intended to provide us with starting places. I'll be presenting the "1,000 Eyes" proposal, but the floor will be open for other concrete, actionable suggestions. Second floor, Carnegie Library - Homewood, 6 pm.