Amid the Minneapolis winter of 2021, La’Davionne Garrett Jr., 11, finally went home. It had been six months since he was struck in the head by a stray bullet while riding in the backseat of his parents’ car, and six months since doctors said he wouldn’t live more than 72 hours. He was released, unable to walk or talk, into the care of his grandmother, Sharrie Greer, who’d previously suffered a heart attack at his bedside. The bullet was still lodged in his head, where it remains to this day.

After a child is shot, their family is forever altered. Among parents whose child survives a shooting, psychiatric disorders increase by nearly one-third, according to a study published in Health Affairs last November. Parents who lose their child can experience a five-fold increase. Then there’s the financial burden: Though most health care costs are paid by insurers or employers, health care spending for survivors increases, on average, 17-fold.

Since La’Davionne’s shooting, The Trace’s Selin Thomas reports in “The Lost Children of North Minneapolis,” he has endured three brain surgeries, with a fourth scheduled, and recently had his spine straightened with 36 screws and two rods, a result of spending years in a wheelchair. He was one of eight children from North Minneapolis who were shot in the particularly violent year of 2021, and while La’Davionne made it to age 13, others, like K.G. Wilson’s granddaughter Aniya Allen — shot just weeks after La’Davionne — never celebrated another birthday, as if trapped in time by a single bullet.

It’s Wilson’s story that Thomas spends the most time with. Wilson is one of North Minneapolis’s “OG community elders,” said Jennifer White, a former City Hall policy advisor and manager of the city’s first Office of Violence Prevention. For nearly two decades, he’s been a one-man violence prevention operation, engaging residents and coordinating with local networks to provide vital resources to people in his community. When a child of North Minneapolis is shot, Wilson is the man their loved ones call, to support them in the immediate aftermath and long after everyone else has moved on. In the case of one of these families, that has meant 13 years; in another, 16. 

But Aniya’s death changed everything for Wilson. Her shooting, like La’Davionne’s, remains unsolved. Thomas’s feature illuminates the struggle currently taking place in North Minneapolis — and what that struggle means for community members’ trust in one another. People are afraid, Wilson told Thomas: “The thing to terrify a community is to do something to the kids.”

From Our Team

The Lost Children of North Minneapolis

K.G. Wilson refused to let young victims of gun violence be forgotten. Then a tragedy he didn’t anticipate changed everything. Read more → 

Test Your Knowledge of U.S. Gun Laws

How much do you know about background checks? Concealed carry? Gun companies’ legal protections? Take our 12-question quiz to find out. Read more → 

The IRS May Have Investigated the NRA, Document Suggests. What Happened?

The previously unreported material shows that a grand jury subpoenaed the gun group’s chief financial officer in 2021. Read more →

Mexico’s Lawsuit Against U.S. Gunmakers Has Cleared a Big Hurdle

A federal law protects American gun manufacturers against most lawsuits, but an appeals court has allowed Mexico’s case to move forward. Read more → 

In Their Own Words: Chicago Gun Violence Survivors Speak on Storytelling

Join the Chicago Sun-Times and The Trace at the Impact House in Chicago for an evening focused on telling survivors’ stories of gun violence. RSVP →

What to Know This Week

A Michigan jury found Jennifer Crumbley, whose son shot and killed four students at Oxford High School in 2021, guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a first-of-its-kind case over whether a parent can be held criminally responsible for a child carrying out a mass school shooting. [Detroit Free Press/Michigan Advance

No states mandate annual active shooter training for police officers, reported Lexi Churchill and Lomi Kriel, whom spoke to The Trace last week about their work investigating the law enforcement response to the Uvalde mass shooting. Meanwhile, at least 37 states require such training in schools, typically on a yearly basis. [The Texas Tribune and ProPublica

Violence fell in many places last year, but the drop in Rochester, New York, was particularly notable. What’s behind the dramatic decline? [Democrat and Chronicle

Gun sales apparently dropped in 2023, according to background check data from the FBI, marking the third straight year of decline following a major uptick in 2020. According to The Trace’s firearm sales tracker, Americans purchased nearly 665,000 fewer guns last year than in 2022. [Jeff Asher

For more than a year, the FBI has been searching for the person who experts say is the most prolific perpetrator of “swatting” — a term for falsely reporting an emergency to elicit a violent police response — in American history. Amid a dramatic rise in these incidents, law enforcement believes they finally arrested the person responsible: a 17-year-old from California. [WIRED]

In Memoriam

Daveon Gibson, 16, was just about the nicest kid you could ever meet. He had a kind word “no matter what you said” to him, a classmate told Block Club Chicago, and while he was generally quiet, he was still “someone you could always talk to.” Daveon was killed near his Chicago high school last week, in a shooting that injured two other teenagers; it was one of a string of shootings near Chicago high schools in recent weeks. Daveon was a role model for his younger siblings, a community member said, and spent the morning before his death helping one of his brothers get ready for his eighth grade picture. He hoped to be a veterinarian one day. “He’s someone that you wanted to know,” a friend’s parent said at a vigil, “someone that you wanted to be friends with.”

We Recommend

Is There Hope for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women?

“A hashtag and a political campaign have brought attention to the epidemic of violence, but a New Mexico woman is fighting case by case.” [The New Yorker]

Pull Quote

“It’s restorative practice, coupled with empathy, compassion, love. To shift someone’s mindset, it’s not just a job or housing. It’s how they view themselves externally and internally.”

— Anthony Hall, a violence prevention worker in Rochester, New York, on how a shift toward preventing gun violence with a cognitive approach may have helped drive down shootings there, to the Democrat and Chronicle