City of brotherly love or city of gun violence?

By Rodrigo Campos-Sánchez
April 29, 2021

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Photo of 415 shirts that line the Overbrook Presbyterian Church grounds to remember the Philadelphians murdered by illegal guns in 2020 as a result of gun violence in Philadelphia.                                                                                                         Photo by Rodrigo Campos-Sánchez

What started as a late-evening game of basketball, ended as a devastating fatality. On Thursday, March 11, 2021, the streets of Philadelphia changed for Lauren Swint, junior education major, from Cabrini.

Swint said that her mother and brother were watching television and that she was sitting in the living room working on homework assignments when they all received a call late in the evening telling them that a relative had been shot and killed.

Swint’s relative was shot in the back of the neck and killed in a triple shooting. Swint’s relative was later pronounced dead in the hospital after the shooting. The others who were at the park the night of the shooting, survived the shooting with wounds. “They are in the hospital with critical conditions at the moment. If they have been released, I do not know,” Swint said.

Swint’s relative is not the first death this year in the city of Philadelphia due to a shooting. Yet, her relative has only added to the over 100 deaths in the first couple of months in this year of 2021.

“I have always seen the streets of Philadelphia as dangerous but to a certain extent. Yet, not all of Philadelphia is dangerous,” Swint said. “We live in a society that has to recognize the dangers in our cities. What happened that night could have been prevented.” 

Photo of Green through a zoom interview Screenshot by Rodrigo Campos-Sánchez

“I am concerned about the amount of homicides that are occurring on the streets of Philadelphia. Shootings have been up dramatically all around the country. We have had a reduction in crimes but an increase in homicides and shootings,” Councilmember Derek S. Green said. “The issue of gun violence is not only an issue in Philadelphia but it is happening everywhere in the United States. The access of guns is a national issue that not only plagues the city of Philadelphia but that plagues our entire nation.”

No arrests have yet to be made in connection with this incident. Swint has since then been begging for an arrest. Anyone with any information is asked to contact the police at 215-686-TIPS. A $20,000 reward will be offered for any information leading to an arrest and conviction. “The killer or killers are still on the loose,” Swint said.

“The Philadelphia police department has a clearance rate that is at 52 percent and from my understanding of last year’s rating, it was below that in the 40s. This is all unacceptable. Part of the challenge is not only getting witnesses to come forward but being able to use all of the technology that we do have to solve crimes and homicides,” Green said. “There has been a true trust issue between the community and the police after last year’s tragic killings of George Floyd but also with the local killing in our city of Philadelphia with Walter Wallace Jr. The police need a better engagement with the community to build trust with the people of Philadelphia.”

The death of her relative did not only just affect Swint but her entire family also. “What has been challenging after the death is not having justice for my relative. We want justice because the person who killed my relative has yet to be found. These actions need to face consequences,” Swint said. 

After the death, Swint has felt that the end of the semester is far from close, even though it is, in fact, just two months away. “Struggling with mental health after so much stress, anxiety and depression have made coming to the end of the semester horrible for me,” Swint said. 

Photo of Dr. Alissa Brown, director of counseling and psychological services, from Cabrini.                    Photo from Brown’s linkedin

“There are many ways that a person might feel after losing a loved one to a shooting. It is important to remember that there is no ‘right’ way to feel or respond after the death of a loved one. Some of the ways a person might feel include sadness, anger, anxiety, disbelief, numbness, confusion and so much more,” Dr. Alissa Brown, director of counseling and psychological services from Cabrini, said.

Swint feels that her family was affected by this because they suffered a great loss. “He was a cousin, a son and a brother that we will never get back,” Swint said. “I faced the loss of a very young relative. I will now never get to see my relative grow up, graduate from high school go or to college. This hurts.”

“What to do after death to a shooting might be different for each person.  Everyone has their own unique needs and coping strategies after experiencing a loss. Some people might want to be around loved ones, while others may prefer to have some time to themselves to process the loss,” Brown said. “Many people benefit from the support of a counselor, support group or faith leader. Some people want this support immediately, while others may reach out after a while. There is no ‘right’ way to work through this grief. Yet, one should know that there are many supports available.”

Swint recommends that “people who face things like what I did should see grief counseling or a sort of help to help them with their grief.”

Brown says, “Each person will have their own needs following a loss.  It is important to identify what type of support is most helpful for an individual. Professional counseling, a support group or support from an individual’s faith community are all options.”

“What happened on Thursday, March 11, 2021, only proved to show that there is an issue that we as a city hope to push forward through. We have to reflect on the loss of loved ones that are no longer with us. We can not have more families going through the same perspective many other families have gone through. It is not just my responsibility as a legislator. It is all of over responsibility to work together. We as a city, need to fight together and do more going forward,” Green said. 

There are organizations in the community that provide free support services to those impacted by homicide and other forms of violence, including the Anti-Violence Partnership of Philadelphia: (215) 567-6776, https://avpphila.org/. There are also 24/7 crisis hotlines and text lines that are available free of charge to anyone at any time and for any reason:  800-273-8255 or text “HOME” to 741-741.

Free, confidential counseling services are available to Cabrini students through counseling and psychological Services (CAPS): 610-902-8561.

Rodrigo Campos-Sánchez

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