Gabrielle Linzy went to bed worrying about pre-calculus. Report cards came out at the end of the week, and Linzy, a senior at Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School in Arkansas, dreaded math.
She woke up at 4 a.m. to a knock on her bedroom door. It was her father, who asked Linzy and her three sisters to come into the living room at once. He had some bad news about their mother, who lived 80 miles away, in Forrest City.
He said their mom, Nashae Williams, had been shot and killed, along with two of their half-sisters, ages 6 and 9. Williams’ live-in boyfriend was the suspect.
As Linzy’s father told her this, the words didn’t make sense. She was in shock. She locked herself in the bathroom for awhile. Then she got dressed and put on her makeup for school.
She cried all day, and her mascara ran.
The nation mourned when 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the hail of bullets on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas. The scope of the violence was breathtaking, incomprehensible. But since then, more than 2,738 people have been shot in the U.S., according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive. A reported 840 of them died.
For these tragedies, there is no national spotlight. But victims and their families face the same devastating consequences. They must plan funerals, miss work, make child care arrangements and pay exorbitant health care bills. And their communities struggle with the same mind-numbing sense of loss.
In the Chicago area, more than 600 miles away from Arkansas, the rain was coming down hard. Earl McKay was in the basement of his house, making sure the backup sump pump was working, and his fiancee got a call.
Something had happened to McKay’s 26-year-old niece, Simone. Decades earlier, McKay had helped her pregnant mother get to the hospital, and he considered Simone to be more like a daughter. Assuming she might have been in a car accident, he decided to go to a trauma center. But on the way, Simone’s dad called, saying she’d been shot and killed.
McKay said he had just seen Simone, a pre-med student at Chicago State University, at a family birthday party. The bubbly, pretty mother of two was making jokes, hanging out and doing makeup for other women. When they said their goodbyes, McKay expected they’d catch up the next day.
Simone’s death has “shattered our family, the fabric,” said McKay. “The impact on us and her children has been tremendous,” he added, noting that “in our time of need, we’ve had an outpouring of love and support.”
The same month Simone was killed, other people were shot in a motel, inside their vehicles, leaving a party, getting out of a cab, standing on the street and in gas stations. Loved ones launched fundraisers to help cover medical costs for an 18-year-old who was shot in the face, and for a bartender who was held up and shot in the forearm on the same day as the Las Vegas shooting.
At Advanced Granite Solutions, a Maryland countertop-making company, Radee Price was acting strangely, his co-worker later told The Associated Press. He was speaking angrily, and then began gathering everyone together in a group.
“Come with me,” the employee recalled Price saying. “I want to say something to everybody.”
With that, Price allegedly opened fire on his colleagues. The witness ran away, his boot flying off in the process. He survived. But three of his co-workers were fatally shot, and two others critically wounded.
There were also other tragic incidents involving children.
In Orlando, a father left a 5-year-old boy in a car while he went to pick up another child, authorities said, and the boy found a gun, shot himself and died.
In North Carolina, a 4-year-old found a gun in a truck’s tailgate and accidentally shot his grandfather to death.
One victim was only 2 months old. Her father was allegedly trying to unload a gun when it went off, shooting the infant girl in the head.
For trauma units, it was business as usual.
At Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, six gunshot wound victims arrived in the trauma bay during the course of Sunday night. One person died.
The patients usually come in quickly, especially when police transport them. The hospital counted 23 shooting cases between Oct. 1 and Oct. 22, with seven deaths, according to Chief of Trauma Lars Ola Sjoholm. He told HuffPost that one patient had been shot in the chest, arm, and through both of his eyes. That case stood out for its cruelty, but “they’re all cruel,” he said.
The shootings reverberated through communities, beyond victims’ immediate families.
In Aliso Viejo, California, Brandy Ferner, who is married to HuffPost reporter Matt Ferner, was home with her two kids, ages 4 and 10, when a friend in the neighborhood called her.
The friend told Ferner she’d just seen a guy with bloody knees screaming, “My roommate shot me.” Not sure whether a shooter had been caught or was still on the loose, Ferner quickly brought the children upstairs.
Ferner’s husband was on his way home, but police would not let him near the house. So she stayed barricaded with the children for hours, waiting. “This is our time to have our shooting,” she thought to herself. At one point, her son grew teary. “Mom,” he said, “I’m scared.”
A 26-year-old man was accused of shooting his father and his father’s girlfriend to death and wounding two others, according to The Orange County Register. Ferner said she felt fortunate that her family was not seriously affected, the way others were.
“It’s so common that these things happen, this is now what we’ve accepted as part of our lives,” she said. The next day, she was fatigued and unfocused, and spent all day in bed. Neighbors closer to the shooting had it worse, she noted, showing signs of insomnia and anxiety and looking into therapy.
“It’s like a shattering,” she said.
Gabrielle Linzy had turned 18 ― technically becoming an adult ― two days before losing her mom to gun violence. It felt unfair, she said, because for much of her childhood, she lived with her father and didn’t see her mom. But over the past year, they had started texting and video chatting. They grew closer and noticed their resemblances.
“She liked to sing. I got that from her,” she said. “She was so happy to see me graduate this year. She wanted to help me with prom.”
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