These scenes are shown every night in the living rooms of the powerful and influential in the American capital. The pickings for the war reporters of the last American war. Today nobody demonstrates in front of the White House- as they once did when a similar war raged on the other side of the world- in a little country called Vietnam - even though today, just as before, the victims are American citizens. In Washington alone in the past year there were 378 dead from gunshot wounds. There's no truce in sight.
Each victim who gets caught in the crossfire will be whisked off amid howling sirens to the DC General Hospital.
00-47 Tracy comes into Casualty
It's nine thirty. This is the casualty department in DC general Hospital. Tracy Rauch, 21 years old, is brought in. It's a fairly routine incident- a head injury. Tracy was lucky. It was just a glancing shot.
The doctors are used to this. Wounds which are normally only seen in a war zone are routine here in DC General. Tracy's life is in experienced hands.
01-13 Woman comes in
Minutes later a critical case arrives. A thirty five year old woman with stab wounds to her upper torso. Her husband was still sitting holding the bloody knife when the police arrived.
She is in shock. The doctors are fighting for her life.
01-28 Bloody hands
Tracy's condition is still serious but not critical any more.
01-32 Tracy, bloody head.
Tracy is gaining consciousness. His whole head is a dull ache.
01-38 Pan Monitor treatment
DC General has the best Accident/ Emergency department in the whole of Washington. The Pentagon even send their own military doctors here to gain experience with gunshot wounds. All other hospitals in the American capital send their students here for a month to gain experience in cases like Tracy Rauch's.
01-55 Reserve Doctors
It's a code blue - reserve doctors are called into casualty. The condition of the stabbed woman is deteriorating rapidly. The knife has damaged her lungs. Nobody can say if she will survive the next few minutes.
Tracy will make it. The doctors in the casualty department clip the head wound together. It's also routine . Tracy's injury looks worse than it actually is. But the local anaesthetic can't quite block out the pain.
02-34 SYNC Doctor Carlos Marroquin
He's been incredibly lucky. That's almost an exaggeration. If he had held his head a few millimetres higher, the bullet would have landed directly in his brain, instead of just grazing his skin.
02-53 Police come in
Half an hour after Tracy's admission, he has visitors. The police interrogate him in casualty.
03-02 Tracy talks to the police
Tracy makes a statement, remembering as much as he is able to. He heard a shot. Then there was blood. Glass from a shattered rear windscreen is everywhere.
03-21 Police action.
The DC General Hospital lies in the 5th Police district of Washington. It's a rough district. The police have their work cut out here. Drug dealing, prostitution and shootings - the front line in a brutal war which is being waged daily on the streets of America.
03-43 The police leave.
This is America's ugly side. In the fifth district in the last year there were ninety murders. In Georgetown - where the politicians sit down to dinner - there were none.
There are seldom tourists to be seen here in the Fifth District, even by day. There is not much of interest other than the many diseases that plague American society.
Everyone would like to make a quick getaway from this neighbourhood, if it were that simple - or possible. The unemployment rate is nearly 20 percent. You need money to be able to pack up and go.
Drug dealing on the streets is for many the best business opportunity the neighbourhood has to offer. Mainly black Americans live here. For the young men here, there's a greater chance that they will die from gunshot wounds than graduate from high school. Almost everything that kills quickly is on sale in the empty houses here - crack, cocaine or a 45 magnum .
04-27 Pan to Redds
James Rauch is twenty two years old. He was with his brother in the car when Tracy was shot.
SYNC "We came round the corner here, I don't know how many shots I heard".
04-39 Redds runs
James, or Redds as he is called by his friends is paralysed from the waist down. It happened three years ago. One of five shots shattered his eleventh vertebrae.
04-50 SYNC James Rauch
"Jealous - the other gang was jealous. This wasn't the first ambush. When they shoot it's only to frighten us. But it doesn't work as simply as that. They shoot and then they hide, and then they come and shoot again. The police know they will come and try again but they don't do anything."
05-11 Pan war-mobile
A block away from their house lies the wreckage of the rival gang's war-mobile. One well aimed shot put it out of action. "They ran like rabbits", remembered Redds and his friends.
05-24 SYNC Redds
"The guy who I was angry with three years ago, he thought I had a knife. I turned around and Boom! -he took a shot at me. He actually wanted to hit my friend but he shot me in the fore-arm. So I went for him and wanted to take the weapons from him, but he emptied the magazine here into my side. Five times and I'm lying there".
05-46 Woman with child
It's not only young men like Redds who have such war stories to tell. Even childhood in the neighbourhood have them.
05-53 SYNC woman
"Anyone can get shot here - easily. That's why kids get shot here, bullets just fly through the windows here in Washington. When people start to shoot, nobody is bothered who gets hit - they just shoot."
06-07 Pan Little Vietnam
Little Vietnam is the name for the corner of twenty-first street. This is where Tracy Rauch was shot, this is where the jungle of Washington is at its most dangerous.
06-31 Tracy is wheeled through the corridor
It's eleven o' clock. Tracy has left casualty. His case is one of nearly five hundred shooting accidents which the DC General Hospital handles every year. If they don't die straight away, the patients stay in hospital for up to three days. Tracy will be out more quickly. The hospital management can't afford to keep lightly wounded patients like Tracy in an emergency bed.
06-55 Doctor and signs of life
On this particular shift the doctors dealt with cases which were mostly critical. Tracy was the exception. He has to stay in for a few more hours for observation.
07-03 SYNC Tracy
"They don't know exactly what sort of weapon it was-it was probably a nine millimetre, yes it was probably a nine. I heard it , it was a nine.. They go 'pah', like that"
"I hung around with my brother for an hour or so, I actually wanted to go to another hospital, where my girlfriend is - she is pregnant - but I guess I won't make it there now".
His girlfriend is seventeen years old. She's seven month's pregnant. It's twins. She has spent the last eight weeks in the clinic to prevent a premature birth. Tracy stays cool. The glancing shot to his head seems to have made him invincible. The law of the street is , 'If it doesn't get you the first time, you've got a good guardian angel.
07-44 SYNC Tracy
"I've been arrested a few times, but I've never done time. They've never caught me with anything. They've tried to hang things on me, but I had a well paid lawyer. They didn't get their act together. I've never had
a drug charge.
"If you live here you can join the army. That is actually all you can do,
join the army, go to war, something like that. You could say that it's
worse here than in L.A.
It's like that here in DC - you live by the gun and you die by the gun.
I'll die in bed, in my sleep, with my two kids next to me. With my girl
next to me, in my sleep. I'm not dying by no bullet.
08-36 Doctor and Pan to bloody stain
Desperation, that's what the doctors hear in the words of patients like
Tracy. What's a little blood, as long as
one doesn't leave the Hospital with a sheet over one's face.
Redds knows what happens when you survive a gunshot wound. Twice a week,
Tuesday and Thursday, he visits the Rehabilitation department in Hospital.
09-11 Redds gang
Hard work in the last three years has paid off. Now at least he can walk slowly again.
It's almost a miracle with his shattered spine. It won't get much better, say Redd's
Doctors. Here in Physiotherapy Redds often thinks about his brother Tracy.
09-26 O Ton Redds
"Now and then I wish I could do something about things. He knows where
I've ended up. He should think about what happened to me and be more care-
ful. But he doesn't think about things. He is stubborn, perhaps he will wake
But Redds doesn't really believe that. His brother Tracy hasn't lived at home
for a long time. Redds however can't leave his mother just like that.
She is an alcoholic and can't live alone any longer.
09-57 Pan Rap to all three
After Physiotherapy Redds treats himself. Together with his best friend
Wham and his girlfriend Denise they go to look for new C.D.'s. People
in Little Vietnam say that Denise only stays with Redds because he might
get compensation for his injuries one day.
But his best friend doesn't believe it. He should have got his com-
pensation by now, after three years, where should the money come from
after all this time?.
10-19 Redds raps in the corridor
Redds isn't bothered. A little money for the pain and the missed opport-
unities would have been O.K. But up until now no-one has given him any-
thing for free.
After their shopping spree the three friends go to a little fast food Rest-
aurant. Here you can get a meal for three dollars- coke included.
Wham and Redds make plans. They want to open a small second-hand
shop if there really is Money coming from Redds disability. But you can't
plan very much on an imaginary fortune. For a few minutes things look
good. They have fun. They forget the Neighbourhood and their lives where
they won't scrape together enough money to
fulfil their dreams. And if they decide not to go straight they
will end up back in the Neighbourhood.
10-56 O Ton Redds
"When I was nine years old I saw my first weapon. My sister's friend was
beaten up with a baseball bat. He came back with a gun and yelled, I'll kill
that Nigger, I'll kill that Nigger, the whole time with the gun in his hand".
"Later I found him in the car. He was lying in his car. Everyone ran to him
calling Rock, Rock, are you O.K.? Someone opened the car door and he
just slid out."
11-32 O Ton Redds
"Sure I would have killed the guy, if someone had killed my brother. He's
the only brother I've got, so I have to care for him. I can't let anything happen
to him. He is a stubborn little bastard. He would do the same for me,
(grin), or perhaps not."
"You can't care about the people on the streets. You can't do it. They
come and go. Wham is my best friend, really, my best friend. If he was
killed I wouldn't care. That's what happens, living in the firing line.
I can only care about myself".
12-22 Empty stretchers
Two people died tonight in DC. General Hospital. Tracy wasn't one of them.
His stretcher is waiting for the next patient.
12-31 Redds in Hospital
Redds has been sitting in the waiting room for nearly two hours. He doesn't know
if his brother has survived. The doctors in Casualty are too busy to keep the
relatives informed about their patients' condition.
12-28 Bloody hands
His brother's blood is still on Redds hands. He has no idea why Tracy was
shot tonight. But the longer he thinks about it, the less he wants to know
12-50 Tracy comes, a cool greeting
Shortly after midnight, Tracy leaves the Casualty department. His head-
bandage doesn't bother him. It is not a particularly friendly meeting between
the two brothers, perhaps they have waited for each other too often in
Hospital waiting rooms.
13-08 Redds stands
Redds is happy that his brother has survived. During his wait he imagined
what it would be like to have to tell his mother that he had left the Hospital
13-19 They go
Tracy wants to leave DC General quickly. It's probably too late to visit
his pregnant girlfriend now.
13-26 Tracy shows his wound
Tracy is somewhat proud of his new battle scar. Redds scrutinises the
wound with a veteran's eyes.
13-34 Tracy gets in his car
Tracy has lost three hours tonight in DC General. But at least his car is
still running. A shattered rear windscreen can be repaired in a good
workshop in the Neighbourhood as quickly as the Doctors in DC General
can sew up a Shotgun wound. All in a day's work in Washington's gang wars.
13-44 Leaving-Music-leave open.