Tuesday, August 09, 2016
By Beth Warren
Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton returned to Louisville on Monday with Gov. Matt Bevin to meet with another shooting victim, a taxi driver and father of four left paralyzed, saying that in some of the city's neighborhoods she "would fear for my safety."
"It strikes me, I couldn't even go running in these areas," Hampton said during a recent phone interview of the city's surge in shootings and killings. "I would fear for my safety."
Hampton, who previously has met with Louisville children, teens and women who have been shot, visited with victims and doctors at University of Louisville Hospital on Monday.
She and Bevin then headed to Frazier Rehab Institute to meet cab driver Abdirahman Gelle Mohamed, 27, who was shot around 3 a.m. June 23 in the Parkland neighborhood after arriving in the 3200 block of Hale Avenue to pick up a passenger. Mohamed, who immigrated from Somalia in 2007 to escape violence, also said a passenger yelled at him before someone fired shots at his cab in western Louisville last year.
"I wouldn't dream of being shot here while you're not even doing anything stupid like dealing drugs." Mohamed told reporters Monday. "I work hard for my kids."
Bevin told Mohamed: "I respect you as a good father, a good husband, a good worker and citizen. That you found yourself in this senseless violence – it's heartbreaking."
Dr. Keith Miller, a U of L Hospital trauma surgeon, said earlier Monday that he hoped to emphasize "focusing on gun violence as a public health issue. It hasn't been treated that way in the past."
He said he remembers more than a decade ago when he might treat one or a couple of shooting victims a week. Now, it's nearly a daily battle to mend shooting victims.
“It is very frustrating," said Miller, assistant professor of surgery. "Sometimes it’s the same people. We do what we can to put them back together."
Five years ago there were 210 shootings the entire year; the city surpassed that total by June this year.
Add to that a decades-high number of homicides.
Louisville Metro Police handled 79 homicide cases last year, up from 56 in 2014. That was an increase of more than 40 percent on the previous year and the highest tally since 1979. Louisville is also on track for another homicide increase this year, with 66 killings so far.
"It's scary," Miller said. "This is also the city we live in. I think it's all of our responsibility to try and do something about it."
This summer activist Christopher 2X requested to meet with the lieutenant governor to share details about his antiviolence initiative, Hood 2 Hood and his efforts to quell neighborhood feuds and retaliation shootings.
Hampton met with Campbellsville
shooting victim Shenitrea Vaughn and women in western Louisville last month to discuss concerns about gun violence and their campaign, Bullets Have No Eyes, at an event hosted by Vaughn and 2X. In June, Hampton met with 2X, Louisville trauma surgeons and young gunshot victims privately at the Capitol in Frankfort to discuss gun violence and peace efforts.
Vaughn, paralyzed from the waist down, came to Frazier on Monday to meet Mohamed.
With her wheelchair next to his, she turned and told him: "I'm here to show love. I'm here to support you.
"I can't lie to you. It's going to be hard. There are going to be good days and bad days, but God gave you a second chance."
Another gunshot survivor, Sheronda Morris, also came to show Mohamed her support. She was shot in 2013 outside of a Butchertown nightclub while trying to break up a fight and was told she would remain paralyzed. On Monday, she returned to Frazier using a cane.
Hampton said she is gathering information and listening to those impacted by gun violence.
"I don’t know that this is the kind of problem that can be solved with a program or more money," she said. “I’m not sure what the answer is."
Reporter Beth Warren can be reached at (502) 582-7164 or [email protected].