By: Matthew Palmer
olitics aside, I think we can all agree that toddlers should not be pulling triggers. Sadly, in the U.S., they do so quite often. On average, a toddler shoots someone once a week, oftentimes with fatal consequences. Some weeks, however, are different. Over the course of one week in April 2016, four toddlers – Kiyan, Sha’Quille, Za’veon, and Holston – unintentionally shot and killed themselves. One Week In April was filmed a month later.
I had two goals in mind while making this film. First, I wanted to create something relevant and important no matter what you think about gun control and the second amendment. I made a distinct effort to avoid overt political statements, choosing to focus, instead, on one simple point regarding guns: if you own one, be safe.
Second, I wanted to capture and convey the grief that comes with not only losing a loved one, but losing a child due to carelessness. To attach faces to the startling statistics surrounding children and guns by creating a portrait of grief, guilt, and lost innocence. In doing so, I aimed to show that a week or a month or a year after a child dies in such a senseless manner, all that is left are memories, regrets, and unending questions.
Left: Detective John Greely of Natchitoches, Louisiana led the investigation into the death of Za’veon Williams. The gun was never recovered, but its owner was arrested on counts of negligent homicide and obstruction of justice.
Right: The Cole’s living room where, a month prior to the taking of this photograph, Holston accidentally shot himself in the chest.
Left: Pamala Kornegay, Sha’Quille’s grandmother, in front of her Kansas City home.
Right: A memorial for three-year-old Holston Cole in his family’s home. Holston loved superheroes and this memorial, in the Cole’s dining room, includes some of his favorite toys.
A still from the film showing a young girl in her home in Georgia.
A still from the film showing an abandoned tricycle.
A toddler in Kansas City.
A Natchitoches, LA evening.
Two-year-old Sha’Quille Kornegay was buried wearing a tiara to hide the gunshot wound on her head.
A young boy in Georgia.
Photos by: Edgar Dubrovskiy