For victims’ families, a moment of tragedy means a lifetime of grief

For the loved ones of gun-violence victims, a moment of tragedy can mean a lifetime of pain and a search for justice.

ONE OF THE bedrooms in Lourdes Reyes’ home in Federal Way belongs to her son George Gabriel Jr.

Its walls are covered with framed photos of Gabriel when he was an adorable kid, posing at high-school dances with girls who found him adorable (in a distinctly more grown-up way) and gazing into the camera while dressed in his blue Marines uniform and white cap.

But Lance Corporal Gabriel has never set foot in this house.

You can help

If you have information about the killings of Kalin Lubben, of Renton, aka Makaiel Blackwell; George Gabriel Jr., of Federal Way; or Desmond Jackson, of Seattle, or if you have tips about other homicides, contact the following police departments. Tips can be anonymous.

• Renton Police Department Det. Pete Montemayor: 425-430-7528

• Federal Way Police Department: 253-835-6799

• Seattle Police Department: 206-233-5000

To anonymously turn in a firearm in Seattle, get information at seattle.gov/police/need-help/surrender-a-firearm.

This room full of lovely memories is, in fact, a loving memorial.

Gabriel was killed by a stray bullet fired during a shooting on May 13, 2014, while he was on leave, visiting his mother at the Federal Way apartment complex where she lived at the time.

Gabriel and his new wife had just driven home from a night out and were waiting for a parking space when they got caught in the crossfire of a dispute, police said.

It was his birthday.

When shots ring out, the pierced air causes ripples that spread well beyond the trauma of the wounded.

They send shock waves through a community’s consciousness that don’t diminish after the headlines fade away and the cameras gravitate toward the next day’s news.

The perverse thing about much of the Seattle-area gun violence that has captured the public’s attention in recent years — including a series of incidents, some fatal, this spring and summer — is that shootings too often go unsolved for months and even years, with witnesses refusing to cooperate and investigations stalling.

Families and friends of the victims are then left with the dual traumas of grief and mystery, making it that much harder to heal the wounds of loss.

Gun violence, no matter where it happens, damages our sense of the natural order of things.

It is not natural, in any community, to say goodbye to a son or daughter or…

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