Temple University Hospital's trauma outreach coordinator Scott Charles wants to do everything for young gunshot victims. Keeping them from returning to the emergency room is a good start.
On this Friday morning Charles stands under harsh lights before a group of at-risk students in an emergency room.
With the students huddled around a cold stainless-steel table, he brings 16-year-old Lamont Adams back to life.
Lamont was born Dec. 10, 1987, Charles begins. His grandmother, who raised him and his young brother, remembers him as a happy, fat baby. He had a beautiful smile and made everyone laugh, the Eddie Murphy of the neighborhood.
On Sept. 22, 2004, the night before he was murdered, Lamont wrote something on his dinner napkin: his obituary. It read: "Lamont Adams was gunned down, son of Daneen Adams and James Edward Mathis."
When his teary-eyed grandmother asked him about it, he blew it off as nothing.
The next night, while Lamont was walking just blocks from his North Philadelphia home, a car pulled up and a man stepped out and shot him. Then the man stood over him and shot Lamont at least a dozen times, leaving him lying in a pool of blood.
Rumor was that in the days leading up to his murder, the high school junior was playing dice on a corner. After he left with his winnings, police busted up the game.
"And haters do what haters do," Charles tells the students. Lamont's 19-year-old killer thought he'd snitched to the cops.
The cops, he says, rushed Lamont to Temple University Hospital, and into a room very much like the one the students are standing in.
Charles asks one of them, a 16-year-old boy, to lie on the table. He then puts round red stickers on the boy's white T-shirt to indicate where Lamont was shot.
Here, here, here, Charles chants, putting red stickers on the boy's chest, arms and thighs. Then he asks him to lie on his stomach. He puts more stickers on his back and his legs.
"No one knew his name," Charles tells the students. "No one knew the reason he was here."
The students are stoic, quiet. A few blink back tears.
There were 24 bullet holes in Lamont's body. Two were in his hand, which he held up in desperation.
The doctors worked on him--cutting, probing, tubing, injecting, clamping--for about 15 minutes.
"How many of you want more than 15 minutes?" Charles asks the students. They stare at the table, at the boy covered in red stickers. The ones who aren't in shock raise their hands.
From here, Charles usually takes students to the morgue. There they see gunshot victims, stiff bodies scarred by ugly wounds.
Before the two-hour program is over, Charles hands out toe tags and asks the students to write on them the dollar amount they believe their life is worth.
Charles insists his Cradle to Grave program isn't some type of scared-straight prevention. He's simply trying to open a window into what gun violence looks like, outside of the glamorized world where actors treat a gunshot wound like a mosquito bite, where rappers get shot nine times and live to sell millions of records, where friends wear their guns and bullet wounds like badges of honor.
He shows the students the after--gory, horrendous and painfully tragic--from doctors cracking open a gunshot victim's chest to the voice of Lamont's grandmother breaking as she sobs on an audio tape about how much she misses her sweet grandbaby.
PW's Summer Guide 2014