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Overcoming trauma by getting out of Baltimore

Jamyla Krempel

Anthony Lloyd is one of those kids who was doing everything right; getting good grades, going to college.

Still, he was shot in the back by a 17-year-old who was trying to steal his scooter. He survived--though, with a bullet lodged in his liver--and recently graduated from Bard High School. He says he wasn't surprised by the attack.

"You know, for me, getting shot it wasn't like, 'Oh my God, I got shot!'" said 18-year-old Anthony in an interview at his summer job at the Middle Branch Park Recreational Center. "It was like this is proof that there is a serious problem. It's proof that there is a serious problem."

His alleged assailant, Ravanna Cornish, was charged as an adult with first degree attempted murder, first and second degree assault, and armed robbery. It was the second time in Cornish's young life he was charged with all those crimes.

Back in January 2016, Cornish was charged with shooting a 30-year-old man. He was out on bail when he allegedly shot Anthony.

Nonetheless, Anthony says he'd like to talk to Cornish.

"No anger, no beat him up, no retaliation, not shoot him back or nothing, but I want to talk to him," he said. "I'm curious as to why he shot me. And if he doesn't know, help him find a reason."

He says he wishes Cornish--who is being held without bail--be given another chance.

"Him sitting in jail isn't doing anything good for him," said Anthony, whose father has been in jail since he was in 6th grade. "Nowadays jails aren't really meant to rehabilitate you back into society."

Anthony was among the nearly 250 victims of non-fatal shooting so far this year. Others weren't as lucky.

"Right now we at 150 murders so far," says James Timpson--he goes by JT--a community liaison officer for Safe Streets, a violence prevention program organized by the Baltimore Health Department. "Those are friends and family of guys we know, guys we work with, some of our friends are in those numbers. So the work is more personal now than it’s ever been before."

JT and his co-worker Dante Barksdale, an outreach coordinator and former convict say the city's youth have become desensitized to gun violence and its related trauma.

"Seeing a dead body is nothing for these kids," says JT. "So we have become so desensitized to shootings and homicide in our communities."

The best advice they can give to young people like Anthony is to get out of Baltimore. Barksdale says it would be like therapy, and JT agrees.

"It is not going to be as tough as it is here," says JT. "So for the first time in his life he may be able to go to sleep and have a sound sleep. He may actually snore his first night in college because he's not hearing any gun shots. He's not worried about the person who shot him is coming after him."

Anthony seems to be taking that advice. He was back in class just two weeks, after the shooting, determined to graduate. Late last month, he proudly walked across the stage at Bard High School to accept his diploma and associates degree.

"It's not like I just graduated," says Anthony. "I graduated plus more, so I did even more than they thought I could do."

He'll be attending Bard College in upstate New York on a full scholarship to study biology in the fall as the first in his family to go to college. But he admits it wasn't easy getting to this milestone.

"A lot of people told me I would never graduate high school," says Anthony. "Teachers, principals, just people everybody thought I was going to fail and end up in the streets. It was told to me so much I almost believed it. That's why my graduation was a real big thing for me."

Anthony says he wants to get his masters as well, then return to Baltimore to be either a teacher or a nurse or both.

"Yeah I want my kids to do better than me. I don't want my kids to go through the type of stuff that I went through!" says Anthony.

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