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Startling surge in LA bloodshed as COVID-19 fades: 'Too many guns in too many hands'

Kevin Rector, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Now, as parks come alive again, schools reopen and restrictions ease on interventionists, Townsend and others hope to reestablish connections with those kids and prevent some of the bloodshed. But "it's not going to be just a sudden drop" in shootings, he said. "These children have been psychologically traumatized; they've gone through a lot."

Putnam said he sees the mental trauma, too.

Often, the gunshot victims who arrive at his unit at Harbor-UCLA are young men from South L.A. Some seem hardened to their circumstances, and some have been shot before. But they all have "lots of life plans, life goals, life expectancy," and those who are lucid beg Putnam to keep them alive, he said.

Their family members, whom Putnam often has to call, suffer tremendously, too.


"Often there's screaming and dropping the phone, and somebody else has to get on the phone and be a little bit more coherent to talk with," Putnam said.

Under current COVID-19 protocols, family members are not allowed into the hospital unless their loved one is at risk of dying — a necessary but, for many, devastating provision.

"We stand there with them, and they think about the senselessness of all these gunshot wounds destroying young people's lives," Putnam said. "Is it really worth it, over whatever minor thing may have set this off?"

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