Bradley Galloway, D.C. Resident, On Friend's Death: 'He Got Shot On His Birthday'

In March, The Huffington Post began talking to teens and adults throughout the U.S. about their experiences with gun violence. This is one individual's story. You can read others here.

Bradley Galloway, 22, was raised in the Michigan Park neighborhood of Northeast Washington, D.C. Bradley first experienced gun violence before he was 10, and when he was a teenager, one of his closest friends was shot and killed. Galloway did his best to keep away from violence, attending a high school far away from his neighborhood and disassociating himself from local gangs. He is currently a student at the Latin American Youth Center in Washington. He has never been hit by a bullet, but he's been directly shot at twice:

It was a cookout.

Everybody's outside. My family members, everything. It was getting dark. It was summertime.

This car pulls up. It just sat there and turned off its lights. Next thing I know, this dude gets up out the window with an automatic. He shot up the whole block.

I was just out there playing with my little cousins. I heard these gunshots go off. It was coming fast.

Next thing I get pushed on the ground. I got one of my cousins and one of his friends on top of us trying to make sure we're alright.

This dude got hit. It grazed him. This lady, she got hit in the foot.

I was, like, seven or eight years old when this happened. I was scared that day.

Me and my cousin, we left. He brought me home and told me not to say nothing to my mother. I was kinda shook up still, but I just held it in and went upstairs and went to sleep and just continued on with my day the next day.

It was just so random. I never seen nothing like that happen. I wasn't raised, brought up like this to see all this gun violence. My mother kept me in school and books and all that stuff.

When I first seen that, it was like a wake up call -- I need to see what is going on. So that's when I went out and I got a little, some street smarts to see what was going on.

* * * * *

Somebody shot at me and my friends. I was about 16, 17 years old. I didn't really know what was going on at the time.

It was just me and one of my friends. We was dropping his son off to his grandmother's so him and his little cousin, they could play out back in the yard. We was going to go the mall or something. I was just standing there.

I just saw what happened. In the far distance, a dude just shot off a couple times. I got down.

Luckily everybody was OK. But if I didn't look to my right and see him, I might not be here right now.

* * * * *

Another time. It was late again. It was like nine, ten o'clock.

I was in my neighborhood. This car just kept riding past like three or four times. I never even noticed it until one of my friends noticed it.

Then like the fourth time they rode past, it was maybe a block down. They parked. Got out -- like four of them. Four people got out of the car and started shooting.

They ain't shoot at us though. They may have been shooting at us, but when they were shooting, we ain't see no bullet holes, no windows, no break, no nothing. Everybody got down. Nobody got shot, again, luckily. But it was just kind of random. I don't even know what happened that time.

I was just sitting there.

* * * * *

One of my closest friends, I wasn't even there, he got shot on his birthday.

He'd just turned 22. My man Ju Ju, Julius. It was his birthday.

We're seeing him at the station -- Fort Totten -- that was like the meetup spot for everyone in the neighborhood that went to Coolidge [High School].

He outside. Everybody jonesing, having a good time. He saying it's his birthday.

We tell him, "Come around our way and chill with us." But he was like, "Nah, I'm bout to go around Saratoga. I'm bout to go around my way." We're like, "OK son, whatever, will we see you tomorrow?"

The next day I got the station, I see all these people crying. I'm like, what's up with y'all? I didn't see nothing. I stayed in the house. I didn't watch the news or nothing. They all telling me, man, Ju Ju got shot.

He was walking, him and his friends, and they shot him and everybody up. Two of them died, one lived.

He got shot on his birthday.

* * * * *

It's just not right.

When I hear that they got shot, I'm glad that they're still here, but I know them. They not really even supposed to be here right now. When I see them I'm like, man I'm glad you're still out here.

One of the dudes I know that got shot more than five times, he just got shot again, like a month or two ago. He's still fine now. But when I see him, I'm like, God has been at your side every time since you've been shot. I don't understand, you still come outside.

He don't care. That's what I'm saying, you can't do nothing to someone who don't care. If you can't change your ways, then I can't. I still don't mind coming around and chillin with you, but other than that I can't hang out around here.

As told to William Wrigley.



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