LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – It was an emotional gathering at the Chestnut YMCA Monday night as dozens of gun violence survivors came together to make sure their voices were heard.
“It's been very rough,” Nicole Taylor said.
She was pistol-whipped, shot and carjacked in July while in front of her four-year-old son.
“It's very heartbreaking watching my son. He doesn't like me to come out at night. He's scared to be out at night.”
The pain and fear left behind after a traumatic, violent incident is what's binding more than 60 families together.“I experienced my mother and brother's death right in front of me. My mother was shot in the mouth. My brother was shot five times in the back. I'm right here today,” another survivor, Stevonte Wood said.
Whether it’s someone who was left behind after a homicide like Wood, or a victim to a violent assault, like Taylor, the emotional and psychological impact afterward is the focus of a 15-page study by the Pegasus Institute called Voices of the Survivors: Louisville Metro Violent Crime Impact Report.
Together, 62 survivors, along with some retired Louisville Metro Police Officers, and a surgeon at University Hospital contributed to the report. The study listed 1,018 homicides in Louisville Metro over the last 15 years, and 3,048 victims who were treated for gunshot wounds.
“Coping and healing certainly doesn't end with discharge from the hospital,” Keith Miller, a surgeon at University Hospital who operated on some of the victims remembered, said. The report does not spell out ways to stop murders, but it does recommend some policy changes, like creating a Victim Advocate Program within LMPD and providing funding to help with funeral costs and other expenses.
“Sometimes the expense comes in the form of having to clean up the blood of a loved one, which is normally covered by homeowners or renter’s insurance, but because you don't have homeowners or renters insurance, you have to clean up that blood yourself,” explained the man behind the study, Josh Crawford. “They won't stop homicides, they won't stop shootings, but it is my hope and it is my belief that they will help improve the circumstances that survivors have to live with.”
The Pegasus Institute is working to get this report in the hands of local policymakers, like LMPD and Metro Council, as well as state representatives.
The full report is now available to the public.