(WTNH) – Gun violence is a growing threat in our state. Hundreds of people have died, and countless others have long-lasting injuries.

The effects of gun violence extend far beyond casualties. In a News 8 special series, “Hope for Healing,” Jayne Chacko searched for solutions to break the cycle of violence.

“My son was just sitting in the car on his phone and all these shots rang out,” said LaShawn Watts-Gaines.

“We have videos of him throughout the day just coming up to the house, snapping his fingers, checking the mailbox. He was just smiling, having a normal day,” said Pashion Watts-Gaines.

LaShawn and Pashion lost their son just under a year ago.

“Very big, six-two, tall guy. But then, that smile would come on and you knew he was a gentle giant. I called him my dude, ‘that’s my dude,’” Pashion said.

PD: 22-year-old man injured in Plainville shooting

27-year-old Trequon Lawrence was shot and killed in the driveway of his childhood home in New Haven. His parents have no idea who did it or why.

“Whoever this person was, if they had an issue with him for whatever reason, all they had to do was talk to him. I guarantee you he would’ve smiled and shook that person’s hand, and it would’ve been done,” LaShawn said. “I always think what his last words were. What was he thinking at the time? Things like that, you’ll never get an answer to.”

Their story is not uncommon. Countless families across the state have experienced the same pain and relived it every day.

“Small in stature, but had a huge heart. I didn’t realize just how big of a heart he had until he was gone,” said Sean Reeves.

On a summer day in 2011, Sean Reeves was leaving his home when he learned his oldest son had been shot. On the corner of George and Day Street, a fight broke out between two groups of young men.

“One shot severed my son’s spinal cord from his brain. He didn’t have an opportunity at that particular point,” Reeves said.

Sean Reeves, Jr. was just 16 years old and about to graduate high school.

“He’s not the only one. He comes from a generation of high levels of potential that’s been taken away early, way too early before given a chance to blossom,” Reeves Sr. said.

For some families, the loss is more recent. In June, Anthony Oden was shot on Starr Street between Winchester Avenue and Newhall Street.

“For someone to shoot my brother in broad daylight, it is beyond me. To me, he was the greatest person alive, the strongest person I knew. I miss him,” said Teresa Green, Oden’s sister.

These families are just a few of the hundreds that are hurting and are asking themselves what could’ve been done to stop the worst from happening.

How do we protect our children, brothers, and sisters from senseless violence?