Ellen Yerkey doesn’t want to think about Tuesday.

The day marks one full year since her son, Alex, was fatally shot while he biked to a pick-up baseball game in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood. The sting remains fresh.

“It’s definitely not another Tuesday. It’s been a year since my son was murdered – that’s not something we forget,” said Ellen Yerkey, who grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to Bethel Park more than a generation ago. “It’s gonna be different because Alex isn’t here.”

A lot has happened since March 26, 2023.

The family and friends packed St. Louise de Marillac church in Upper St. Clair for Yerkey’s Catholic funeral.

The creation and maintenance of a makeshift memorial — photos pockmarking a grayish beige fence alongside a hockey stick, a baseball or a can of Yerkey’s beloved Mountain Dew Kickstart energy drink — at Pearl Street and Corday Way, near where Yerkey was slain.

The first birthday cake Yerkey’s surviving twin sister ate without him.

A court hearing for the Braddock man charged in connection with his death.

“The one big thing is I don’t want Alex to be forgotten,” Ellen Yerkey told TribLive. “I want to remember the kind of person he was, not how he died.”

Growing up

Alexander Patrick Yerkey was born in Pittsburgh on Jan. 31, 1997 — a twin brother to Lindsay, who beat him into the world by one minute. (The twins also have an older brother, Christopher.)

An athletic kid raised in Bethel Park, Yerkey picked up baseball by age 3 or 4, his family said.

By the time his mother started trekking to South Park to watch Yerkey play, he’d become the epitome of a utility player. He showed equal talents on Bethel Baseball Association (BBA) and Bethel Church League (BCL) teams as a first-baseman and outfielder. Sometimes, he’d even pitch.

His athleticism followed him into adulthood.

On Sundays, including the day he was killed, Yerkey would play on The Bloomfield Bridgeburners — a team that earned its nom de guerre for playing on the diamond underneath the bridge, in a small park just off Ewing Street.

Yerkey played ice hockey, texting family members cellphone shots just two weeks before his death of him living it up on the Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink. Ellen Yerkey said she’s close with her kids and the four of them often took part in group text-chats.

When not on the ice, Yerkey played roller hockey in a South Park league.

He also loved going to PNC Park to see the Pittsburgh Pirates — “He liked the Pirates — even when they were bad, he would go,” his mother said.

After Yerkey died, his family paid tribute by posting his name on the stadium’s electronic scoreboard during recent Pirates games. They plan to do it again in 2024.

‘I miss hearing him play’

Yerkey was passionate about music.

The aspiring musician taught himself bass. At around age 12, he often would trek downstairs into his Bethel Park home’s game room to find space to play, his family said.

Because Yerkey played the bass left-handed, he was forced to special-order bass guitars online. He did that a lot, his mother laughed. He owned about eight to 10 different bass guitars throughout his life.

“I miss hearing him play,” Ellen Yerkey said. “Everywhere he went, he played.”

In his 20s, Yerkey served as the bassist for a jam-driven indie band named Woji, which played Oakland house parties, at Club Cafe and Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh’s South Side, and elsewhere.

He liked to post his solo work — some of it possibly inspired by The Beatles and guitarist Jimi Hendrix — to the music-streaming site Soundcloud.

After graduating from Bethel Park High School in 2015, Yerkey went to the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in urban studies. His concentration was urban planning; his minor was sociology.

Pittsburgh internship

Though Yerkey’s tenure in the cogs of Pittsburgh government was short-lived, it left an impression.

From January through March 2022, Yerkey worked as a traffic engineering intern in Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure — earning several boosters who helped him land his first job in urban planning.

Mayor Ed Gainey heaped praise on Yerkey after he died in what Gainey called “a senseless act of gun violence.”

“He left a lasting impression during his time as both an intern and a consultant for the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, and today we are grieving this loss while also feeling gratitude for having known him,” Gainey said last year.

In July 2022, after leaving the city internship, Yerkey scored a job as a transportation planning associate at SB Thomas & Associates. The staff there said they fell in love with him instantly.

The position was entry-level but Yerkey took the reins and ran with it, doing everything from traffic-related data work to helping redevelop the company’s website, the company’s founder and president told TribLive. She and others used phrases Monday like “well-rounded” and “hard worker” to describe Yerkey.

“He was eager to do whatever he could, learn whatever he could,” said Sheree Thomas, who started the small but growing woman-owned firm in Moon Township in 2007. “Everyone was eager to take him under their wing, because they liked him so much.”

As part of the job, Yerkey would install traffic counters on Pittsburgh streets, then collect the data those counters captured, such as car volume or average car speeds.

“If there’s a speed bump anywhere in the city, there’s a chance Alex was there, studying data,” said Sean Thomas, the firm’s vice president.

Yerkey — who moved to Friendship, then Bloomfield, after graduating from Pitt — loved Pittsburgh and city living, his family said. Though he grew up without pets, Yerkey took a leap while living in the city and adopted a cat, a female named Lou.

Since Yerkey’s death, his girlfriend, Paige, has taken care of Lou, his family said.

‘He never caused any problems’

Yerkey was a sensitive soul to the end, his family said. A month before his death, he sent his mother flowers on Valentine’s Day and brought his elderly aunt a Valentine’s Day card.

“Young men don’t do that, you know,” Ellen Yerkey told TribLive. “He was a good, all-around kid. Growing up, he never caused me any problems.”

Yerkey’s twin sister, Lindsay, didn’t want a birthday cake on Jan. 31 this year.

“She didn’t want to celebrate without her brother,” her mother said, adding that Lindsay was “just intertwined, just best friends” with Alex.

Yerkey hasn’t forgotten the man accused of killing her son — Lukas Kislak, 34, of Braddock.

After at least four delays, Kislak had a preliminary hearing in front of a district court judge Friday, court records show. His case next heads to Common Pleas court, where he is scheduled for arraignment April 22.

Kislak is represented by the Allegheny County Public Defender’s Office, which typically doesn’t comment on active cases.

Pittsburgh police charged Kislak on the day of the shooting with homicide, firing into an occupied structure, recklessly endangering another person and carrying a firearm without a license, court records show.

“We definitely want justice for Alex,” said Ellen Yerkey on Sunday. “I’m definitely his No. 1 supporter.”

Despite all she and her family have been through, Alex’s mother doesn’t know what to expect when she wakes up Tuesday morning.

She said she’s taken a day off at work but has no plans yet.

“I go day by day,” Ellen Yerkey said. “It’s a new thing. I don’t know how to deal with this — we don’t want to.”

“We just don’t want Alex to be forgotten,” she added. “He was just a kind young man, a gentle soul.”

Justin Vellucci is a TribLive reporter covering crime and public safety in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. A longtime freelance journalist and former reporter for the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, he worked as a general assignment reporter at the Trib from 2006 to 2009 and returned in 2022. He can be reached at jvellucci@triblive.com.