Sean Reynolds almost lost his life over a PlayStation.
The 17-year-old high school senior had arranged to sell his gaming console through the app OfferUp, and agreed to meet the buyer — another teenager — near a public housing complex in Watts. He intended to save the cash he earned for college expenses that fall.
Instead, one of two teens who met Reynolds at his car that hot day in May pulled out a gun and shot him, the bullet ricocheting off his hip and fragmenting through his abdomen. As he lay on the ground bleeding, he said, the second teen urged the first to fire again.
“Finish him off,” he heard the boy say
“I was in shock,” Reynolds, now 18, recalled in a recent interview with The Times. “It was a lot to process.”
Reynolds, who was badly wounded, is among more than 1,400 people who survived shootings in L.A. in 2021 — the second year in a row in which gun violence has increased in the city.
Had things gone differently — and they easily could have, given his extreme injuries — Reynolds would have been among the nearly 400 people killed in L.A. this year, whose deaths mark a more than 50% increase in homicides since 2019.
“We’ve seen all different types of surgeons,” said Qiuana Williams, Reynolds’ mother. “After reading his medical documents, they all look at him like he is a walking miracle.”
Amid a pandemic that has ravaged people’s financial and emotional reserves and undermined long-standing initiatives to stem violence, families like Reynolds’ are persevering through surgeries, physical therapy and the emotional labor of trying to pull their lives back together after being blindsided by bullets.
Other families — more than in any other year in L.A. since 2007 — were forced to plan funerals and process their first holiday season without sons, daughters, brothers and parents, whose lives were snatched away, mostly by gunmen.