The numbers jump off the page: Nine dead on an Oregon college campus, 12 in a theater in Aurora, Colorado. Thirteen soldiers and civilians at Fort Hood, Texas; 32 people at Virginia Tech; 13 at a community center in Binghamton, New York. Twenty-six dead — 20 of them young children — at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Mass killings like the one Thursday at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, scraped nerves raw, commanded headlines and prompted an anguished President Barack Obama to take to the airwaves — again — to condemn gun violence.
Here’s another number: 8,124. That’s the total of homicides by gun in 2014, according to the FBI’s Crime in the United States report. That works out to an average of 156 a week, more than 22 people shot to death every day across the country.
Dr. Helen Farrell, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard Medical School and is on staff at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said people do have more interest in — and there is certainly more intense media coverage of — mass killings because they are relatively uncommon.
“That’s unfortunate because those single homicides are far more prevalent and cause just as much pain and suffering to the people involved,” she said.
In just the 24 hours surrounding Thursday’s Oregon killings, there were at least a dozen shooting deaths. A look at them:
Five-month-old Aavielle Wakefield died Thursday when more than a dozen shots were fired into a car. An angry Police Chief Calvin Williams broke down crying while briefing the media on the shooting. It was the third time in a month that Williams’ department has investigated the shooting death of a child. Three-year-old Major Howard was killed in a drive-by shooting, and 5-year-old Ramon “Dink” Burnett was hit and killed by crossfire while playing football in a courtyard behind his grandmother’s house on Sept. 4.
“It’s been hard to stomach,” said Williams.
A man in the northern Florida community of Inglis shot two people to death, including his estranged wife, and critically injured a third before killing himself. Police received 911 calls of shots fired Thursday evening and when they arrived at the home about 50 miles from Gainesville, they surrounded the home, believing the gunman was inside. Levy County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Scott Tummond said officers saw a man appear in a second-floor window, then vanish from view. Officers then heard a single gunshot. The shootings took the lives of Walter Terhune, 68, Patricia Tyson, age unknown, and the gunman, 57-year-old Walter Tyson. Police said they believe the Tysons recently split up. It appears that Terhune, a Vietnam veteran, heard shots from across the street, noticed there were children nearby and went to intervene when he was shot. “This is a very … tragic incident for this small community,” Tummond said.
Three shootings Wednesday night and Thursday morning left two men dead and another injured, The Baltimore Sun reported. Just before 10 p.m., police found Deyquawn Charvez Cooper, 21, with a single gunshot wound to his upper body. They announced the next day that he had died and a family member was in custody. A 32-year-old found with gunshots in his upper body also died from his injuries.
Two people died in Capitol Heights, a Washington suburb, after a triple shooting Wednesday night. Ernest Gene Lott, 37, and Garland Johnson, 43, both of Washington, D.C., died about a block away from where a security guard at an apartment complex in Capitol Heights was shot and killed in July. Lott and Johnson were pronounced dead outside a three-story apartment building where they were found around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, police said. Detectives are investigating the case as a double homicide but don’t believe it was random.
Police responded to an upscale high-rise in Buckhead about 5 a.m. Thursday and found security guard Emmanuel Nwankwo, 23, shot several times. Another guard, Dexter Harper, was taken into custody and charged with murder. Police said an argument led up to the shooting. Another security guard, Ronald Harrison, told WSB-TV that he learned of the shooting when he arrived for work. “With all that’s been going on, even with a badge on my chest, it doesn’t make me feel better,” Harrison told the television station.
The Fresno Bee reported that a midday gunfight near a busy intersection late Thursday morning left two brothers dead and a bystander wounded. “I heard four shots and a pause and then like three or four more,” Katherine Allington told KFSN-TV in Fresno. When police arrived, they learned that the possible gunman was holed up in an apartment. They surrounded the building and ultimately took the man into custody. Fresno police identified the brothers as Willie Ford, 19, and Denzel Ford, 18. Police said Willie Ford was a gang member who was arrested in 2014 when he was caught hiding a loaded handgun in a bag of Cheetos Hot Fries, the paper reported. A third brother, 17-year-old Benzo Ford, died July 12 when a bullet fired from a nearby alley came through a window into a bedroom. Police say they believe he was targeted.
Police say a confrontation led to the shooting death of a 23-year-old man found in his car in a Target shopping center parking lot. Witnesses reported that the driver of another vehicle fired shots just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, sending shoppers scrambling to stay inside the store. Several shoppers saw shattered glass and bullet casings on the ground as medics tried to save the victim, according to KOMO-TV. “We saw them doing CPR on him when he got taken out of the car for a good five or ten minutes. And then they just stopped and called it,” Slav Styrenko told the station. The gunman immediately fled the scene with another person in the car.
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