In Los Angeles, each day brings peril for those living in the crosshairs of gang warfare. It chooses its victims blindly, without regards to class or race, impacting the entire community and similar communities all over America. For those left behind — maimed victims, husbands, mothers, best friends of the dead — the aftermath is an ongoing nightmare. They spend years struggling against pain that is sometimes physical and almost always emotional.
Barely a day goes by in the county when the bullets of rival gangs don't ring out in a never-ending turf war. When the senseless bloodshed makes the news, it is usually explained as young men killing each other over drugs. Often forgotten are the real victims, whose stories are rarely told, yet which illustrate the genuine human toll of gang violence. 5-year-old Josue Hercules' blood still stains the sidewalk where the stray bullet hit him. Rose Smith can't find the strength to tell her children she's never going to walk again. Shameka Harris wonders why the bullets couldn't have hit her instead of her young daughter. The struggle bends lives in different ways. Some dip into long periods of depression, battling to keep their relationships, their jobs and their hope afloat. Some become activists. They join committees, stuff envelopes, speak at high schools and work to change laws. Some lack the means to leave their dangerous neighborhoods and are trapped in view of the crime scene. They say their prayers and cling to the desperate hope that nothing bad will ever happen again.