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Justin George has been a crime reporter at The Baltimore Sun since 2012, a role leading to him to contribute to the first series of the popular podcast “Serial.” During the Freddie Gray investigation and subsequent Baltimore riots in April 2015, he reported from inside the police department's headquarters. George grew up in Littleton, Colo., and attended Columbine High School before graduating from the University of Colorado. Before The Sun, George worked at the Tampa Bay Times, where he covered Hurricane Katrina and investigated sex abuse at a group home.
What follows is a series of stories that Justin George reported on as an O'Brien Fellow based at the Diederich College of Communication during the 2015-16 academic year. For the series, which was published in The Baltimore Sun, George traveled to five cities to research gun violence; analyzed crime data from cities across the U.S.; reviewed dozens of studies on violent crime, trauma and guns; and interviewed more than 80 people, including homicide detectives, police chiefs, hit men, ex-offenders, researchers, emergency room doctors, nurses, trauma surgeons, family members of victims, neighborhood residents, prosecutors and survivors of shootings. Four Marquette students – Wyatt Massey, Hannah H. Kirby, Natalie Wickman and Matthew Kulling – served as research assistants as part of the O'Brien Fellowship program.
Quinzell Covington's evolution into a killer encapsulates a trend driving gun violence around the country: Increasingly, people are shooting to kill. Criminals are stockpiling higher-caliber guns, many with extended magazines that hold more than 20 bullets. Police and hospitals are seeing a growing number of victims who have been shot in the head or shot repeatedly. And trauma doctors are finding it more difficult to save gunshot victims. In many places, if you get shot, you are more likely to die than ever before.
The odds for gunshot victims got worse in at least 10 of the nation's largest cities last year — an overlooked trend behind a surge in shootings and homicides in urban areas around the country, The Sun found. The violence is often confined to certain impoverished areas, such as southeast Washington, D.C., Chicago's south side and the north side in Milwaukee.
Emergency rooms are struggling to save gunshot victims arriving in worse shape than ever before, with more bullet wounds, increasingly shot in the head. Even as advancements in trauma care have saved countless lives, victims of gun violence have seen their chances of survival drop, exacting a toll on victims’ families, medical personnel and taxpayers.
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