The Rev. Christopher Harris was at a conference in Philadelphia in April 2013 when he received a call from a Chicago Public Schools representative asking for his help counseling a woman whose 15-year-old son, Cornelius German, had been shot and killed just four blocks from former President Barack Obama's Chicago residence.
"His mother was ready to commit suicide," recalled Harris, pastor of Bright Star Church on Chicago's South Side. "They asked if I could call and pray with this family."
Harris immediately flew home and went with the family as they identified Cornelius' body and made funeral arrangements. The experience made him realize the tremendous trauma that families and loved ones of the victims of violence undergo in the aftermath of such events.
"It shook me completely," Harris said.
This month's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people, thrust the epidemic of gun violence back into the national spotlight and has renewed a conversation about the role healthcare and community organizations can play—if not in curbing violence, at least in dealing with the aftermath.