Gang Shooting

Christiana Hospital has a practice called NO PASS. It means that if a patient's call light is on above the door, you MUST go in to see what they need. One day, Walter was walking past a room that had its door closed for days. The call light was on, so he knocked at the door and asked about entering. He was invited in and asked what was needed. A young man—let’s call him George—and his mother were in the room. They asked for water, which Walter went to get for them.

The nurse at the nurses’ station asked what was going on and then told Walter not to go back to the room because the patient was violent and treated everyone terribly. Walter told the nurse that he would take care of it. He brought back two glasses of water and started a conversation by asking George why he was in the hospital.

George, who was about 20 years old, told Walter that he was in a gang and he was shot in the back. Walter said, “Gang, you don’t know what a gang is. I was in a gang in Brooklyn with Gambino and Gotti.” He continued talking to the kid about what gang life was like, and eventually got to a point where he told George that he needed get out of the gang and build a better life.

All the time Walter was talking, George’s mother was saying, "Listen to the nice man. He’s trying to give you good advice."

After a while, as Walter was leaving, George asked him if he would come back to talk to him again. Walter said yes, but George had to promise to be nice to the staff and follow their directions. A couple of days later, Walter returned to the hospital and the head nurse stopped him to ask what he had said to the gunshot patient. “Why?,” Walter asked. “He’s been nice to everyone for a change,” she replied.

Several days later George was being discharged. Walter had been visiting him regularly. That last day, George promised Walter he would get out of the gang. Walter simply told George that’s between him and G!d.

Almost a year later, Walter was arriving for his volunteer shift when he heard someone calling him. It was George, the gunshot patient. George wrapped his arms around Walter, gave him a giant hug, and thanked him. Walter asked George what he had been doing to keep busy. George told Walter he had quit the gang and was mentoring young boys and telling them not to join a gang.