Anwan Glover was leaning against the wall in a hospital hallway, shoulders slumped, chest concaved as if he’d been punched in the gut. His teenage son, dressed in a blue hospital gown, was standing nearby looking fit despite having been hit in the back by gunfire at a pool party in Prince George’s County early Sunday.
“I got the call . . . and my heart dropped into my stomach,” Glover told me, eyes on his son. “Worst call in the world. I’ve never been that scared in my life.”
Glover, 34, is not easily frightened. As tough as he was as a character in the HBO series “The Wire,” in which he starred as gangster Slim Charles, he’s even tougher in real life. In the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Northwest Washington, where he grew up, Glover was known as “Big G,” a 6-foot-6-inch streetwise Genghis Khan of a hellraiser who was shot 13 times and lived to tell about it.
But it’s not the bullet with his name on it that worries Glover these days. It’s the ones that strike those closest to him and all of the youngsters he’s been trying to save through anti-violence campaigns since changing his ways. It’s as if all of his efforts to make amends for the wrongs he did were being spurned by some karmic power.
When a younger brother was shot and killed in the District in 2007, Glover didn’t think he could hurt any worse. Then he got the call about his son. He rushed into the hospital emergency room and saw the boy with tubes coming out of his bloody body as doctors worked intensely to save him.
“From where I came from, trying so hard to transition out, then to realize that no matter how far you go it’s always going to be around.” He paused, seemed to realize that his chin was nearly to his chest and tried to straighten up. Surely that trademark Slim Charles cool pose was in there somewhere. But his heart was too heavy, and Big G just let out a sigh.
“I can’t get my hands around it,” he said.
As he talked, a youngster who’d been standing with his son at the party was wheeled by on a stretcher, intravenous tubes in his arms. The kid had appeared with Glover in several episodes of “The Wire.” Some viewers might recall the scenes at the boxing gym where youngsters were invited to go after school instead of hanging out on the streets. He played one of the youngsters.
“How you doing?” Glover asked. He was aching, not acting, this time.
“Not too good,” the youngster replied softly. “I got shot five times.”
Glover isn’t sure what happened. Neither are Prince George’s County police, so far. Their records provide only a bare-bones account of a shooting incident with multiple victims Sunday morning.
“At approximately 1 a.m. this morning, officers responded to a call for shots fired in the 3600 block of Jeff Road, Glenarden, MD. Upon arrival, officers found 1 victim suffering from a gunshot wound. Approximately 10 minutes later they discovered a second victim a short distance away in the same block. While officers were working the scene, a third and fourth victim were discovered to have been involved in the same incident. [However,] friends transported them to a hospital from the scene. This makes a total of four victims. All are expected to survive.”
All right, no one was killed. But shootings count.
Consider these findings by Dawn Moreland, a trauma prevention specialist for Washington Hospital Center:
From January 2006 through December 2010, the trauma unit admitted 4,003 intentional injury victims. Of that number, 1,251 people were victims of assault; 1,314 were victims of stab wounds; and 1,438 were victims of gunshot wounds.
Of the victims, 238 died.
As for their ages, 1,738 were from 14 to 25. There were 17 John and Jane Does whose bodies were never identified. Regarding race: There were 11 “undocumented,” 37 Asian, 247 Caucasian, 942 Hispanic and 2,763 African American.
And that’s just one hospital.
Glover’s son will be a senior in high school come September. The bullet entered his back, nicked a lung and lodged in an armpit.
“If the caliber of that bullet had been any bigger, we wouldn’t be standing here having this conversation,” Glover said, grateful for the silver lining.
Glover said he’d given his son the benefit of lessons that Big G had learned the hard way. And the wisdom was paying off. The youngster was not a troublemaker, Glover said, nor were he and his friends part of a gang.
“These days, you don’t have to do anything to make the bullets start flying. Somebody sees you with something they don’t have — shoes, a woman — and they’ll try to take it from you. My son was just trying to have a little summer fun before school starts. You have guys out here acting like crash dummies in the streets, but he’s not like that.”