An average of 110,000 people are shot every year in America. That works out to roughly 32 gun homicides, 60 gun suicides, and about 215 gun assaults and unintentional shootings every day. Many of those shootings are the result of disputes made fatal or life-threatening by the availability of ready firepower. But as we have been reminded during these first days of May, the scale of the gun violence problem in the United States means that bullets also fly at random in broad daylight, bystanders sometimes become targets, and happy gatherings can end in bloodshed.
At a poolside birthday party in San Diego, surrounded by palm trees: Seven people shot, one fatally.
It was a sparkling Sunday evening, the air a perfect 78 degrees. The 49-year-old gunman, a beer in one hand, opened fire from his patio chair. During the rampage, he called his ex-girlfriend so she could hear the shooting. Blood from his victims pooled under an umbrella table covered with food set out for sharing.
Near the sweeping lawn of proud stone church in Montgomery, Alabama: A 14-year-old girl shot dead.
The ringing of the final bell sent children spilling into a warm afternoon on the first day of May. Ja’Querria Timmons stood outside a Baptist church, waiting with her cousin for a ride home. A student from another school walked up; words were exchanged; a single shot was fired, striking Ja’Querria in the chest. An ambulance whisked the teenager away from the green grass and into the sterile hospital ward where she would succumb to her wounds.
On a tree-lined street in Washington, D.C., a stone’s throw from the Capitol: A hail of bullets sends evening walkers running for their lives.
The sidewalks were crowded on the southeast side of Capitol Hill. People hustled home from their jobs, Monday in the bag, or out to dates with friends. It was around 6:30 when the neighbors were joined by one or two men armed with rifles. Muzzles flashed as the bullets flew, the shooter or shooters just blasting away, firing at no particular target, police would later say. A father walking with his two young sons ducked his boys behind the shrubs edging a postage-stamp park and hustled them away from danger. By the slimmest of margins, no one was hurt. “If aimed a few inches to the right,” the father posted on a community forum, referring to the bullets that had whizzed past him and his boys, “I may not be be writing this today.”
At a ballpark in St. Louis: A spectator catches a falling round.
Tuesday night, the middle game of a homestand, and Cardinals fans watch their pitcher carry the team into the eighth inning. A 34-year-old woman cheers from behind the home dugout. From her spot in the good seats, she shouts, “Wow, I think I’ve been shot!” Raising her arm, she finds a small blood-stained hole in her jacket. Police determine that the .40-caliber bullet had been shot into the air from an intersection half a mile away.
In a college art gallery in Irving, Texas: A young woman killed by an armed stalker.
Janeera Gonzalez took a seat in a study area of her campus’s fine arts building, where an exhibition of students’ works was winding down. She was a senior, which meant that the upcoming final exams were something to both stress out over and to savor. As she sat, a man who had been stalking her approached. Witnesses said he fired three shots, killing her, before fleeing to a locker room and shooting himself in a shower stall.