America Started the Summer Off with a Massive Wave of Gun Violence
At least 95 people were shot across the country this weekend.
In this May 29, 2016 file photo, a constable car with a shot-out window remains at the scene where Houston police were investigating a shooting in Houston. (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP, File)
Every year, US media outlets report on the phenomenon whereby people holed up inside their apartments are apparently less likely to murder on another than they are during the summer, a notoriously violent season. But this weekend was a particularly nasty one––with seven mass shootings taking place within a two-day span––raising the question of whether summer 2016 might unleash a uniquely grisly spectacle of gun violence across America.
Early Sunday morning, several unlucky people in Trenton, New Jersey, were shot just before 1 AM while making their way to a cookout. They never even saw the shooter. In a different area of the same city, a woman standing on a street corner having a conversation was shot in the leg during a drive-by shooting. A man later showed up to the hospital and said he had been shot in his toe, apparently during the same incident.
By 3 AM, the violence had shifted to America's Midwest. Police in Indianapolis heard gun shots and found two men suffering from bullet wounds in a parking garage, and another two in a nearby alley. In that case, the men were apparently able to at least provide enough details about their assailant that the cops pulled over a car they believed to have been connected to the shooting. Inside, they found guns and ammunition; three people are now facing charges.
A few hours later, the insanity made its way to the Southwest, where a group of two men and two women walking down the street in Las Vegas spotted two men arguing. After an exchange with the group, one of the two men reportedly went into a white Lexus and produced a handgun, which he then used to shoot all four of the people who happened by.
At 10:15 AM Sunday, 25-year-old army veteran Dionisio Garza III allegedly killed one person and injured six more––including two police officers––at and around an auto detail shop in Houston before being taken down by a SWAT team. The suspected gunman's father told a local NBC affiliate that he believed Garza, who served two tours in Afghanistan and had been acting erratically as of late, was suffering from PTSD. He also said that "signs" were there that his son might snap, including that he tried to get his family to go live on a compound and had expressed concern that the economy was on the brink of collapse. A Twitter handle bearing Garza's name suggests he kept tabs on far right-wing politics and conspiracy theorists.
Finally, that afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, hunters in Washington state shot five orchard workers who were obscured by trees, presumably by accident.
Unfortunately, the holiday itself wasn't much more peaceful than the day preceding it. In both Baltimore, Maryland, and Sacramento, California, cars pulled up to barbecues and opened fire. Five people were injured in each incident, although no one was killed.
Even though a total of 35 people were shot in mass shootings over the course of those two days, only one man in Houston died as a result. That's not to mention the many other Americans––like the man in Trenton who was shot in the toe––who were victims of gun violence on a smaller scale. The panic about what all this portends is particularly acute in Chicago, where homicides were already up about 50 percent on Friday morning compared to the same time last year, and at least 62 more people were reported shot this weekend.
"If something doesn't change, if we don't get jobs for these kids, if we don't change the economic situation, I'm worried that we could be looking at a blood bath," a pastor in the city's South Side told the New York Times.
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