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Sabrina Bates

In memory of my father

On October 11, 1988, my father was shot and killed in the alleyway behind our apartment in Los Angeles. An unknown neighbor, in the midst of a mental health crisis, decided he would gun down a woman he believed to be spying on him. My father heard the gunshots, ran out to help, and ended up being shot nine times by a semi-automatic weapon. Three of the bullets hit his head, one in each knee, and the rest in his abdomen. By the time my mother and I reached the hospital at UCLA, he was gone. This man knew he was ill and had the potential to hurt someone. He shared this information with his college and with the local police. Nothing was done, or I guess could be done. This man’s call for help was not answered, and he was able to amass a collection of firearms, which he then proceeded to use to kill two innocent people — it might had been more, had he come across them.

Thirty years later, and my family still feels the ripple effects of having lost my father. My mother never remarried and continues to struggle with bouts of depression and bitterness. Shortly after marrying my husband, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety, having episodes of paralyzing paranoia over the thought of possibly losing him unexpectedly. I’ve learned there is no end to this journey. There is not a day that goes by that my father is not thought of and missed. His avoidable and senseless death is the reason for my and my husband’s continued volunteer work with Moms Demand Action.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.