PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Cameron Bertrand, who lives in Newport News, was a visitor Tuesday afternoon on the trauma floor at VCU Hospital when the first patients arrived following a mass shooting at a nearby high school graduation ceremony.
“There were constant updates coming in like, ‘Hey two people were shot, three people were shot, four people were shot five people were shot’; the numbers just kept going up,” said Bertrand, who was visiting a friend recovering from injuries suffered in a car accident.
Once the scene was secured, police reported there was one gunman and two fatalities. The unknown figure is the number of people that are directly and indirectly affected by another mass shooting.
In a nation that has more guns than people, the Gun Violence Archive reports that so far this year there have been more than 18,000 gun violence deaths, with all causes taken into consideration.
“A day that was meant to be remembered for great reasons will now be a traumatic experience for thousands of people for years to come, even for people who were not at the graduation,” Bertrand said.
Bertrand, the CEO of Violence Intervention & Prevention, was shot in the leg in 2015 near Norfolk State University in a case that remains unsolved. He’s calling on the nation to mend wounds that have been open for decades.
“If we do not address poverty, if we do not address the racism, if we do not address generational trauma, if we do not address homelessness and hunger, if we do not address access to resources in our community, if we don’t address the need for equity and ownership in our communities, we will not see a reduction in gun violence,” Bertrand said.
Regina Mobley: Cameron, you have help for people who may be hurting?
Cameron Bertrand: Yes we do have a crisis hotline that’s 24-7 that’s directly linked to our trauma recovery center, so for people who may be experiencing grief or people who are hospitalized or facing anxiety from being around the shooting. To reach out to us, the phone number is (757) 945-0456; our email is firstname.lastname@example.org.