By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There have been more than 250 murders in Baltimore this year. More than 215 were committed by a handgun. In most cases, an illegal handgun.

Now, the non-profit group Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence is using photography to raise awareness via a photo essay project that puts a face and a name on the victims and the loved ones they left behind. It’s called “Behind the Statistics.”

“I am a mom of a murdered son in Baltimore City,” says Phyllis Scott. “I am also an aunt of a murdered niece and nephew in Baltimore City.”

Scott’s picture hangs in the gallery at the gallery at Nancy by Station North Arts Café. She was there today, sharing her story.

“No one can tell us not to grieve,” she says. “No one can tell us this will go away.”

It’s a pain that will never end.

Cynthia Bruce’s son was 23, a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts. After counting 19 bullets, the doctors stopped counting.

“But I still miss hearing my son’s words,” she says. “‘Mom, I love you. Mom, what did you cook for dinner? Mom, I’m coming. I’m on my way, mom.'”

“I’m gonna keep on pushing,” says Keke Collins, whose son was murdered at 22. “I’m gonna keep on speaking. I’m gonna keep on walking because my son deserves it. He didn’t deserve to die.”

Dorothy’s father and son used a gun to kill themselves.

“Two-thirds of all gun deaths in this country are suicides,” Dorothy says. “And most are white males.”

“Violence is violence, no matter where it’s done, who the perpetrator of the crime is,” says Gretta Willis, who also lost a son. “If it’s done unjustly, it is a homicide.”

Murder has a face, and it creates unending sorrow.

Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith knows a victim is not a statistic. Baltimore’s 2017 victim #173 was his brother, Dionay Smith.

“I don’t want anyone’s family in Baltimore or this country to be forgotten about as we talk about this nonsense and the availability of guns,” he says.

And if the Behind The Statistics project has any say in the matter, gun violence victims won’t be forgotten.

If you can’t get to Station North to see the photos, you can see them on BehindTheStatistics.org.

New ones will be released every two weeks.

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