As the Pandemic Winds Down Slowly, Gun Violence Heats Up


As the pandemic rages on in some parts of the world and slows down in others, n just the past few months alone, Americans across the country mourn the loss of many other lives, either at the hands of police or by gun violence alone. 

On April 11, Daunte Wright, a 20-year old Black man, was fatally shot by police officer Kimberly Potter. Wright was pulled over by officers for a traffic violation, relating to expired registration tags and air fresheners hanging from his rear mirror. It was after the stop that they discovered a warrant for Wright, who had not shown up for a prior court date. Wright stepped back into his car, and body camera footage shows Potter aiming a handgun at him. His car is then seen pulling away and crashing into another vehicle a few blocks later. Wright was declared dead at the scene, with a bullet to the chest.

Former Minnesota Police Chief Gannon, who resigned after Daunte Wright’s death, claimed that Potter had mistaken her gun for a taser, which is 1 pound lighter than a gun and neon yellow. The shooting of Daunte Wright has led hundreds of protesters into Brooklyn Center’s streets. His funeral was attended by relatives of other victims of police violence, including the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, and the families of Philando Castile, Oscar Grant, and Emmett Till. Daunte Wright was the father to 1 year old son, Daunte Junior.

“He always said he couldn’t wait to make his son proud,” says his mother, Katie Wright. “Junior was the joy of his life, and he lived for him every single day, and now he’s not going to be able to see him.”

On October 26 of last year, Walter Wallace Jr. was shot 14 times in less than a minute by Philadelphia police after reports of experiencing a mental health crisis that day. Wallace Jr., a 27-year old newlywed, died in the hospital later on, sparking mass protests across the city. Now, the family of Wallace Jr. is suing the officers involved for wrongful death, asking for reform as they also file a federal lawsuit. The family’s attorney, Shaka Johnson, is advocating for specific changes within the Philadelphia police department, including the implementation of required training and less-lethal equipment. As this legal case unfolds, nearly 100 people have recently gathered at West Philadelphia’s Malcolm X Park to honor Wallace Jr., with drum lines, bouncy houses, and other family-friendly celebrations.

“My husband loved to party, so it’s a block party … liberation, justice, everything- for the people,” said Dom Wallace, his wife.

On April 15, 19-year old Brandon Hole entered a FedEx facility in Indianapolis and carried out a mass shooting. Hole was a former FedEx employee in 2020, and knew that workers were not allowed to access their phones, leaving them unable to video his actions or call the police. Hole killed at least eight people and injured seven, with employees stating that they heard up to 10 gunshots. The shooter was said to have at least one weapon, which after investigation, turned out to be a rifle. Timothy Boillat, FedEx worker and witness, tells his account.

At first, Bliat thought the gunshots were metals being clanged together. They heard more of these noises and saw people running out of the building- “And then I saw a body on the floor” says Boillat. The 19-year old committed suicide at the crime scene before the police could enter the building. Hole had browsed white supremacist websites about a year before the shooting, police said. Four of the victims were members of Indianapolis’ Sikh community, and all victims will be honored at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Sikh community hopes that people from all around the state will join to support affected families “as Indianapolis begins the journey of healing together and helping each other during this excruciatingly difficult time,” says Rajanpreet Kaur, a spokesperson for the Sikh Coalition.

A day after three people were found dead, Stephen Broderick, a former sheriff’s detective, was arrested for the shooting right outside Austin. The victims of this shooting, which occured on April 18, are Amanda Broderick (Stephen’s ex-wife), Alyssa Marie Broderick (Stephen’s stepdaughter), and Willie Simmons III (Alyssa’s boyfriend). Law enforcement responded to a call for a shooting, and when they arrived at the scene it appeared to be a normal car accident. However, when taking a closer look, all three bodies were discovered next to the crash. Broderick was arrested right outside of Austin just one day after the incident. 

At just 4:32 the police were called on Tuesday, April 20th in Columbus, Ohio. Sixteen year old Ma´Khia Bryant had found herself in an altercation and had decided to call the police. Reports stated that knives were pulled out and the two girls were threatening to stab each other. When police arrived they had found Ma´Khia holding the knife towards the girl, at which the unnamed police officer had shouted to get down about 4 times. Ma´Khia did not and it led to the officer shooting at her upper body 4 times. The bodycam footage was spread and eventually went viral which led to protests. The Biden administration noted that the shooting was ¨tragic¨ and called for police reform. Others debated that the officer could have used a taser instead of a gun, while some said she was given a warning to get down and refused to drop the knife. Her family members claimed that she dropped the knife before shots rang. The unnamed officer is now off duty, and investigators are looking into the circumstances surrounding her death. 

Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year old Black man, was fatally shot by North Carolinian sheriff’s deputies, on April 21 in Elizabeth City. Governor Roy Cooper has called for a special prosecutor to take over the case, amid public suspicion and outcry over the details of the killing. Brown was reportedly driving away from deputies executing drug-related search and arrest warrants. Only 20 seconds of body camera footage was released to family and lawyers, and the names of the law enforcement involved remain secret.

A private autopsy shows five bullets fired at Brown, with a bullet to the head being fatal. Attorney Ben Crump, who represents several other police brutality cases, states that Brown was in his car, with his hands on the wheel, when officers fired bullets. Seven deputies have already been placed on paid administrative leave. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting, while protests are ongoing in response to the killing. At a hearing, a judge has ruled that body camera footage will not be released for at least a month, with family being allowed to view more footage.

Chicago police shot and killed 22-year old Anthony Alvarez on March 31. Body camera footage shows two officers driving into a gas station parking lot, where Alvarez begins to run away. Officers chase him on foot down an alley, into a front yard. Officer Evan Solano is heard shouting to “Drop the gun” before firing 5 times.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability, an independent city agency that investigates Chicago police shootings, is currently reviewing Alvarez’s death. Chicago police superintendent declined to explain why the police were chasing Alvarez, and what crimes, if any, he had committed. This came only days after the March 29 Chicago police shooting of Adam Toledo, a 13-year old from the West Side.

On March 29, officer Eric Stillman fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo in the chest near the Little Village neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago at 2:30 am. Adam and 21-year-old Ruban Roman were ambushed by two policemen after receiving a report on alleged gunfire. Ruban bolted as soon as law enforcement made themselves present. However, Adam Toledo stayed at the scene unarmed with his hands distinctly in the air. Even though he was obeying commands, Stillman still shot and killed Toledo. After bodycam footage was released, Chicago police came forward claiming “the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo was a split-second decision.” 

During President Biden’s recent speech, he discusses gun violence, and one of his plans to stop the use of firearms that have no serial numbers- also known as ghost guns. Biden called on federal lawmakers to pass a ban on assault weapons. He has also been funding several anti-gun violence programs and limiting the availability of some firearms. “Gun violence has become an epidemic in America” he states in his address to the joint session of Congress on April 28.  

“Police brutality and gun violence is not surprising in America, just heartbreaking. I feel that we as a country need to do more to stop these senseless deaths,” says Yara Shobut, a sophomore. “There must be other ways for police to interact with citizens in these situations, ways that do not result in the death of Black and brown individuals. Nobody deserves a death sentence at the hands of law enforcement, and we need to remember that the police are not judge, jury, and executioner. As for gun violence, I wonder when lawmakers and the general public will realize that thoughts and prayers just aren’t enough,” Shobut adds.

“I think this recent rise in gun violence shows that we need more strict laws and procedures for seeing if someone is qualified and mentally stable enough to own a gun, and if they intend to use the gun to harm others”, comments sophomore Caitlyn Stachel.