Precious Lives

Stories about kids, guns and how to stop the violence.

Precious Lives, created by 371 Productions, is a 2-year, 100-part weekly radio series about gun violence and young people in the Milwaukee area. The series applies a public health lens to each story to help listeners understand the full scope of the problem: who are the victims and the shooters; how are the weapons obtained; and what can we change about the environment that contributes to violence in Milwaukee? Explore the impact of gun violence on the community at large.

Learn more at and to get help / give help, resources are available here.

Join the conversation on Facebook, follow the hashtag #PreciousLives on Twitter and subscribe for the podcast on iTunes.

#101 Precious Lives: A Search for Answers

Dec 20, 2016
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This is the final episode of Precious Lives. And for this final story, we thought we’d return to the first family we met - the family of Laylah Petersen.

Two years ago, we interviewed Ashley Fogl and Amanda Legler.

Start From The Beginning: #001 Precious Lives: How Do You Measure the Loss of a Five-Year-Old Girl?

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A reporting project out of Milwaukee, Wis., has spent the last two years documenting one problem - gun violence. The series is called Precious Lives.


#100 Precious Lives: Breaking the Cycle of Violence

Dec 13, 2016
yeyen, fotolia

On June 11, 1994, Garland Hampton woke up around 10:30 am. He poured himself a bowl cereal, took a shower and went to a friend’s birthday party. That evening, Garland got into a fight with a fellow gang member. He pointed a 9-millimeter pistol at Donell Storks and shot him in the left side of the head.

Both boys were 15 years old.

Garland was arrested on homicide charges the next day. He wrote in his police report: “I feel very sorry about what happened.”

Mike DeSisti | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Well over a decade ago, pediatric surgeon Dr. John Densmore and his wife bought their first home. He had just started his residency at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

"You know what I remember fondly about it was that people looked out for each other," Densmore says. For instance, he’d come home after a long shift to find his walk shoveled. But, there were problems.

"I remember on a run by a park near that house one day that a Hmong kid had been shot," he says. "Sort of being dumbstruck that that could happen so close to where I was living."

#098 Precious Lives: The Next Chapter

Nov 29, 2016
Michelle Maternowski

At the end of 2016, Precious Lives will shift gears. We’ll wrap up our radio series and focus on a traveling live show. The Precious Lives team will attempt to reach all corners of Milwaukee to harness diverse energies to combat the problem of gun violence.

Performers will bring their stories of gun violence directly into churches, schools, offices and so on.

#097 Precious Lives: An Urban Ministry

Nov 22, 2016
Rick Wood | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Violence clusters like an infectious disease. But you can also feel it when you walk into certain community spaces, like All People’s Church in Milwaukee.

Precious Lives has featured All People’s before in our series - after 24-year-old member Isiah Johnson survived two separate shootings in one year.

#096 Precious Lives: Finding Justice - and Purpose - Amid Police Violence

Nov 15, 2016
Angela Peterson | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

After Sylville Smith was shot and killed by a police officer this summer, his family was left to grieve and figure out how to move forward.

His brother Sedan and cousin Taz have emerged as community leaders.

They’re young black men from the streets who are taking advantage of the spotlight to seek justice for Sylville, and push for a larger change in their community. And Precious Lives discovered how they’re being changed along the way.

: Mike De Sisti | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

We met 22-year-old Carlton Dewindt over a year ago, when he was featured on an early episode of Precious Lives.

Neighborhood feuds and shootings eventually culminated in the death of Carlton’s close friend, Lil Ray. Ray died in an alley next to an orchard tended by Walnut Way Conservation Corp.

The staff at Walnut Way gathered Carlton and other men affected by Ray's death. They talked, they boxed, they camped... They grieved together.

#094 Precious Lives: How Did We Get Here?

Nov 1, 2016
Courtesy of the Campbell Family

There’s a lot we know about gun violence. We know it’s concentrated in poorer areas. And we know those areas tend to be heavily black. But how did things get that way -- how did we get to the point where 84% of Milwaukee’s homicide victims are black?

To start understanding some of the historical underpinnings of how we got to where we are, Precious Lives producers Aisha Turner and Emily Forman visited Monk’s Barbershop.

#093 Precious Lives: Behind the Gun Violence Beat

Oct 25, 2016
Precious Lives

This is Precious Lives episode 93. We’re almost at our goal of telling 100 stories about gun violence and young people in Milwaukee. We’ve covered the family members who have lost loved ones, the activists fighting to make the city better, and the political leaders overseeing it all. Each week, we ask our interview subjects to be emotionally honest with us as we try to understand the problem of gun violence. This week, the microphones are turned on our reporters.

#092 Precious Lives: Running Towards a Second Chance

Oct 18, 2016
Courtesy of Mario Drain

Born a few months apart, Mario Drain and his friends wound up with very different fates after committing armed robbery together in high school.

His friends were 17 and sentenced as adults. Mario was still 16. He was sent to the Running Rebels and put into the Intensive Monitoring Program.

Mario's case workers stayed on him -- they made sure he came to meetings, got involved in activities and showed up to school everyday. This alternative to incarceration worked.

#091 Precious Lives: Building Community After a Police-Involved Shooting

Oct 11, 2016
Aisha Turner, Precious Lives

In August 2016, 23-year old Sylville Smith was shot by District 7 Officer Dominique Heaggan.

Officer Lawson Murrell was long-interested in improving the relationship between the police and the black community. He’s now the Milwaukee Police Department's District 7 Community Liaison Officer.

And at the memorial for Sylville Smith on 44th and Auer, he’s facing the first major test of his new role. And as a black police officer, he’s stuck in an especially tough position.

#090 Precious Lives: The Playoffs

Oct 4, 2016
Calvin Mattheis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This is the final episode of a three part series following a young basketball team. At 13 and 14 years old - these players are dealing with a lot more than basketball drills. They lost a teammate last year: 13 year old Giovonnie Cameron, who was shot and killed within the first week of the season. In this episode, we’ll pick up where we left off: just weeks before the championship game, the team is undefeated.

Corresponding Content: 

Courtesy of Todd Barnett

For the past couple of weeks, our Precious Lives series has reported on a Milwaukee summer recreational basketball league. We’ve learned how the Warning League, as it’s known, has been affected by gun violence, and how it has served as a stabilizing force for young people.

Calvin Mattheis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Precious Lives picks up where it left off last week with Coach Eric Moore. He coaches in a summer basketball league called Warning Project Respect. And he’s earned himself a reputation throughout the league as the “crying coach.”

Coach held in his tears after years after his best friend and basketball teammate John Wess was killed back when they were teenagers. That trauma had major consequences on Coach - there was prison time, suicidal thoughts and more violence. But, he was able to turn things around.