Mother of Uptown teenage boy mourns son: ‘I held his hand the whole time’

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A teenage footballer had his whole future ahead of him until he was the victim of gun violence.

Alex Kowalyk’s mother, Vanessa, is speaking out and calling for change.

She describes her son as a good boy. She said Alex didn’t do drugs and adored his younger sister. She said they had just moved from McKeesport to Shadyside for a better life the very day he died.

He was on life support for 13 hours before he died.

“I held his hand the whole time and didn’t leave him for a minute,” she said. “I was there with him and delivered him to God.”

Vanessa Kowalyk saw her son come into the world but never imagined she would see him leave. Unfortunately, this is his reality. His 16-year-old only son Alexander was shot dead early Monday morning.

“A friend of theirs was at home and they were visiting and they were driving home and stopped to see someone and there was a drive-by shooting,” Vanessa said. “He went through the back of my car and into my son and out of my son.”

Vanessa said she knew something was wrong when Alex missed curfew. She called and texted several times but he never answered. It was just before 3 a.m. when a message from the friend he was with reached him saying that Alex had died.

“I thought they were joking or lying and just trying to get a few extra minutes outside and running around,” she said.

Pittsburgh police say Alex was shot and killed early Monday morning in the city’s Uptown neighborhood while sitting in the passenger seat of his mother’s car along Van Braam Street.

Since his death, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey called on the state legislature take action and allow the city to make its own gun laws.

“We have too many guns on the streets. If the state won’t do it, give it to us. Exempt us from being able to deal with the gun situation in the city. We know locally what which is best for us,” Gainey said.

The City of Pittsburgh filed a petition earlier this summer to appeal the state Supreme Court’s decision barring cities from passing their own gun laws.

No one has been arrested in Alex’s death.


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