Two men charged in Pittsburgh shooting ambush
Pittsburgh, Pa. — WPXI reports that the two men who were named suspects in the cookout ambush that killed five adults and an unborn child in Wilkinsburg earlier this year were charged in the case on Thursday.
Cheron Shelton, 29, and Robert Thomas, 27, were both charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, criminal conspiracy and attempted homicide.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Shelton and Thomas planned the attack and carried it out, and that no one else was involved.
Both men were being held on charges stemming from heroin and stolen weapons allegedly found at a home in Wilkinsburg in February 2013. County detectives labeled Shelton and Thomas as suspects in the shootings in April.
They were brought into Allegheny County police headquarters shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday.
Chanetta Powell, a 25-year-old who was 8 months pregnant, and four others — Jerry Shelton, 35; Tina Shelton, 37; Brittany Powell, 27; and Shada Mahone, 26 — were killed in the ambush in the backyard of a home on Franklin Avenue on March 9. Powell’s unborn child also died. Cheron Shelton is not related to Jerry or Tina Shelton.
Three other people were wounded, including LaMont Powell, who Zappala said was the primary target of the shooting.
Zappala said Thomas walked up an alley and fired shots from a pistol toward about 15 cookout guests. When the guests ran toward the house’s back door for cover, Zappala said they were mowed down by Shelton, who fired the fatal shots from a rifle similar to an AK-47. He was just four feet away from the victims, Zappala said.
The gunmen fired 48 shots in 22 seconds according to Zappala, who described the crime scene as “horrific.”
The weapons used in the ambush have not been recovered, but the evidence against Shelton and Thomas includes shell casings, cell phone records, surveillance video and witnesses who are cooperating with investigators.
Zappala said Shelton and Thomas had been looking for LaMont Powell since 2013. He did not release any additional information about the motive for the shooting.
A timeline of events that night, which was created by investigators, indicates the suspects saw a social media post about the cookout hours before the shooting. The post included a photo of LaMont Powell.
A $20,000 reward is still being offered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Community members are encouraged to come forward if they have additional information about the case.