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“It’s Hell”: Surge of Texas Kids Dying From Gun Violence Carves Canyons of Grief Through Families

BAYTOWN — Yosha Hamilton was frying some pickles in the kitchen one Tuesday evening when she caught a quick glimpse of her son Shane outside. Before the two could catch up about their day, the teen scurried off to a friend’s home.

Hamilton didn’t take it personally. She figured Shane, who’d turned 16 just four days earlier, would be home soon. She also didn’t give too much thought to a rat-tat-tat of gunfire that cracked the dark, cool air outside a few minutes later. There’s always gunfire, she thought.

A moment later, Shane collapsed at the front door and was bleeding from gunshot wounds. It was the last time Hamilton would see her son alive.

“It’s hell,” she said this summer, sitting in her living room as she talked about the star high school athlete who will never finish his quest to become a professional basketball player. “I know it’s reality. But it’s hard.”

Shane was one of the first Texas teens killed with a gun this year after he was shot Jan. 10 somewhere between a friend’s house and his family’s apartment in Baytown, a suburb east of Houston. Hamilton still doesn’t know why Shane was shot — or who pulled the trigger.

One hundred and seventy-three more youths in Texas died from gunshot wounds in the eight months that followed Shane’s death, according to state health data. Each death represents a growing, gruesome trend. In 2020, gunshots became the leading cause of death for Texas youths. The number of youths — those younger than 18 — killed by guns in Texas went up from around 100 a decade ago to nearly 300 in 2022.

The available numbers on gun violence affecting children only hint at a complex problem that contains immeasurable impacts. Each death carves a canyon of grief through families and communities. Confusion and pain grow through the void left by the untimely end to a young life.

Most shootings bring trauma to a community, Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia told The Texas Tribune, “but particularly when a juvenile is killed, it’s incredibly traumatic.”

Source : Texas Tribune