1 deadly day: names and lives behind gunshot stats

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Back for the afternoon at Cleveland’s UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, Dr. Anthony DeRoss hurried to prepare for a scheduled appendectomy when the pager on his belt flashed an alert: Level 1 trauma patient en route.

The patient was a 6-year-old cherub with pigtails named Nevaeh Benson. At 1:13 p.m. she’d been at home on East 116th Street when her father sent her to fetch something for an infant sister. Family members heard a thump, and Edmund Benson ran upstairs to find Nevaeh sprawled across the bedroom floor with his handgun. Police said she found it where her father hid it and accidentally shot herself in the face.

By law, Edmund Benson, 23, was not supposed to have a gun. He has a felony record and has been charged with having a weapon under disability and endangering a child.

At the hospital, though, DeRoss’ team knew only that they had a gunshot victim in dire condition — and that the death rate from such injuries is much higher than other types of trauma.

“I always think about what we could’ve done to prevent it…that’s where my mind always travels to, how can we keep this from happening again,” DeRoss says. “And there’s not always an easy answer.”

If only doctors could turn back the clock and show parents the risks, he says. If only they could save children like Nevaeh. Days later, her photo smiled alongside a newspaper notice that made no mention of how she died. “Summoned by angels,” it said.

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In Mulberry, Ill., Charles Chrisman, 40, fatally shot himself in his home and was found about 2:43 p.m.

At about 4:15 p.m., Jermaine Foster, 30, was found shot dead inside a car in Fort Wayne, Ind.

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Kristy Aschliman made a point to keep in touch with family, sometimes calling twice a day to talk about music or work. But recently, there was also talk of trouble. Four times in the past few months, Aschliman’s apartment in Idaho Falls, Idaho, had been burglarized. The 21-year-old bought a small pink-and-white pistol for protection, but it was stolen, too, according to her grandmother, Estelle Nation.

Just before 1 p.m., Aschliman’s car swerved into the snow along semi-rural Lincoln Road, and she ran. A man with a gun gave chase, fired, and four bullets struck Aschliman in the head, police said. She died there.

After setting up roadblocks, Sheriff’s officers arrested Adan Arroyo, 22, and charged him with murder. Investigators will not comment on his motive or relationship to Aschliman. Arroyo has a lengthy court record for vandalism, theft and other charges. At the time of her death, Aschliman was facing drug possession charges.

At a memorial service, relatives and friends filed past an open casket; they recalled Aschliman’s work with disabled children, and the time she lavished styling her hair and fingernails. But there is little peace for a family that has long celebrated the April birthday Aschliman shared with her father and her closest aunt.

“It’s going to be hell,” her grandmother said.

 

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