Americans may think that gun violence means being shot by a stranger — but people who live with the results of shootings say the source is most often closer to home.
Dr. Katherine Bakes says most gunshot victims coming into the emergency room at Denver Health Medical Center know the person who attacked them. The doctor, who heads that trauma hospital’s children’s E.R., was speaking at a 2040 Partners for Health neighborhood conference in northeast Denver.
As an example, she cited a recent shooting in Globeville, where a young mother shot her three children and then herself. One child survived to become Bakes’ patient.
And she was not alone in seeing the solution to gun violence in the community.
Terrance Roberts, a former Denver gang member and himself a shooting victim, agreed that gun violence is deeply rooted. He said public spaces should be cared for to make sure a community thrives. And kids must be encouraged to change their reaction to trauma in their community – such as the threat of violence from gangs, he said. “We have to build up our communities so that kids don’t feel the need to join a gang or pick up a gun to defend themselves against gangs,” said Roberts.
Bakes directs AIM, a program that offers bedside interventions to patients at Denver Health to motivate victims of violence to change the course of their lives. Roberts is founder of The Prodigal Son Initiative, a nonprofit that aims to enhance the lives of Denver’s at-risk youth.