South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

A year later, Amanda McKnight still wonders why

 

David McIntyre and Christopher Mikula-Conrad

By Margaret L. Smykla, Contributing Writer

At 8:30 pm on Nov. 1, 2015, David McIntyre, 11, and his brother, Christopher Mikula-Conrad, called CJ, 16, were playing video baseball when a man suddenly entered their Hays Ave. home in Mt. Oliver and began shooting.

David, who was shot five times, died at the scene. CJ, who was also shot five times, was left in critical condition.

Today, following multiple surgeries, he still has a bullet in his right forearm and in his liver.

"He doesn't see himself as my hero, but he is," said the boys' mother, Amanda McKnight, who is hoping the one-year anniversary of the horrific event will spur someone to step forward with information as the crime remains unsolved.

"Somebody had to see something or hear the shots," she said. She asks that anyone with information contact Allegheny County homicide, or Crime Stoppers. There is a $2,000 award for a tip leading to a conviction.

Her theories include that the shooter erred and came to the wrong address, or a case of mistaken identity, or the intended victims were in the upstairs apartment. Mrs. McKnight and her family, who lived in the downstairs apartment, have since left the area.

Mrs. McKnight said the tremendous loss of that tragic evening is ever-present.

"I think of David every waking moment.

"My dad passed away three months ago. He died on the nine-month anniversary of David being buried.

"David's death, and the shooting in general, I believe led to his death.

"My dad was never the same after the shooting," she said.

On that Sunday evening a year ago, both Mrs. McKnight and her father, Frank Mikula, were in the house when the shooting began.

"I was in the rear of the house in the bedroom when I heard the first shot. I thought a car had backfired, or fireworks, or a video game," she said.

Her father yelled for the boys to get down on the floor. When Mrs. McKnight next saw David moments later, her father was holding his lifeless body.

While neither she nor her father saw the shooter, CJ caught a glimpse of a white male, 6'1" to 6'3" in height, in his late 20s or early 30s.

"He stood in the foyer and emptied his weapon without saying a word, and left," Mrs. McKnight said of what CJ recalled.

She called the last year "a roller coaster ride of highs and lows," but mostly lows.

"The high was celebrating CJ's seventeenth birthday as we didn't' know if he would have a seventeenth birthday," she said.

The numerous lows included David's birthday, and the first day of the new school year.

"He would have started seventh grade," she said.

Another low last year was the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season.

"I was there physically, but mentally and emotionally detached," she said.

Most painful of all was this past Halloween, which was the last holiday she celebrated with David.

At that time, she brought David to South Side to trick-or-treat, during which he tripped while walking, to which her friend's mother told him, "You're falling for me."

"I can't walk down Seventeenth and Sarah streets without crying," she said.

Today, CJ, who is a junior in high school, still undergoes psychological therapy. Besides the lodged bullets, he lost part of a thumb.

The family is also in therapy.

Mrs. McKnight's middle son, Bryan McIntyre, 13, has "survivor's guilt," she said, as he feels if he was home that night he might have been shot instead of David, who would still be alive.

"He was the first one to step forward and say 'I want to carry my brother's casket,' '' Mrs. McKnight recalled.

David, whose corneas were donated to two recipients, is buried in a McKees Rocks cemetery, four rows down from his great step-grandfather, who died in 2012, and to whom David was close.

"David would go to the cemetery with me, and say 'I want to be buried on top of Pap.'

"I have a sense of security that John McKnight is watching over him," she said.

 

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