PITTSBURGH (TheBlaze/AP) — Pittsburgh anchorwoman Wendy Bell of WTAE-TV has apologized for comments she posted on Facebook this week about an ambush shooting that left five people dead, saying her words “could be viewed as racist.”
The victims, killed in a poor suburb following a cookout, included a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
“I sincerely apologize for the post about the Wilkinsburg mass shooting,” Bell posted on Facebook Wednesday evening. “I now understand that some of the words I chose were insensitive and could be viewed as racist. I regret offending anyone.”
The apology refers to a lengthy Facebook message Bell posted Monday, which read in part:
You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday. They are young black men, likely teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested.
Authorities have not made any arrests in the March 9 killings, nor have they provided a description of any possible suspects.
Bell’s post drew a mixed reaction from viewers. Some saw her comments as offensive, prompting the apology. A Facebook page, “Demand WTAE Hold Wendy Bell Accountable” was created in response and drew nearly 500 followers.
Others responded to Bell’s Wednesday Facebook post with supportive messages, saying they did not find her original message to be racist or offensive and thanking her for her honesty.
According to her station biography, Bell is an 18-year veteran of the station and has won 21 Emmy Awards.
Siblings Jerry Michael Shelton, 35, Brittany Powell, 27, and Chanetta Powell, 25, along with two cousins, Tina Shelton, 37, and Shada Mahone, 26 were killed in the ambush shooting, police said. Chanetta Powell was nearly eight months pregnant.
Wilkinsburg is a poor, largely blighted suburb east of Pittsburgh known for drug trafficking and gun violence, though the street where the shooting occurred was described by neighbors as generally quiet.
Read Bell’s full post, which was screen captured by the Daily Mail:
Next to, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand time,” I remember my mom most often saying to my sister and me when we were young and constantly fighting, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I’ve really had nothing nice to say these past 11 days and so this page has been quiet. There’s no nice words to write when a coward holding an AK-47 hoses down a family and their friends sharing laughs and a mild evening on a back porch in Wilkinsburg. There’s no kind words when 6 people are murdered. When there children have to hide for cover and then emerge from the frightened shadows to find their mother’s face blown off or their father’s twisted bod leaking blood into the dirt from all the bullet holes. There’s just been nothing nice to say. And I’ve been dragging around this feeling like a cold I can’t shake that rattles in my chest each time I breathe and makes my temples throb. I don’t want to hurt anymore. I’m tired of hurting.
You needn’t be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so man hearts two weeks ago Wednesday. I will tell you they live within 5 miles of Franklin Avenue and Ardmore Boulevard and have been hiding out since in a home likely much closer to that backyard patio than anyone thinks. they are young black men, likely teens are in their early 20’s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have grown up in the system before. They’ve grown up there. They know the police. They’ve been arrested. They’ve made the circuit and nothing has scared them enough. Now they are lost. Once you kill a neighbor’s three children, two nieces and her unborn grandson, there’s no coming back. There’s nothing nice to say about that.
But there is HOPE. and Joe and I caught a glimpse of it Saturday night. A young, African American teen hustling like nobody’s business at a restaurant we took the boys to over at the Southside Works. This child stacked heavy glass glasses 10 high and carried three teetering towers of them in one hand with plates puled high in the other. He wiped off the tables. Tended to the chairs. Got down on his hands and knees to pick up the scraps that had fallen to the floor. And he did tall this with a rhythm like a dancer with a satisfied smile on his face. And I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He’s going to Make it.
When Joe paid the bill, I asked to see the manager. He came over to our table apprehensively and I told him that that young man was the best thing that his restaurant had going. The manger beamed and agreed that his young employee was special. As the boys and we put on our coats and started walking out — I saw the manager put his arm around that child’s shoulder and pat him on the back in congratulation. It will be some time before I gorget that smile that beamed across that young worker’s face — or the look in his eyes as we caught each other’s gaze. I wonder how long it had been since someone told him he was special.