Pastor aims to get 1,000 guns off streets through buyback program
Another assault rifle is off the streets of Indianapolis, on its way for destruction at the Marion County Sheriff's Department.
Frederick Roney of Indianapolis turned in an old school AK-47 .22-caliber handgun and a box full of ammunition Thursday morning at First Christian Missionary Baptist Church on East 38th Street. Roney saw Pastor Damon Roach on Eyewitness News the day before talking about the gun buyback program he is spearheading to get as many weapons off the street as possible.
"There is too much gun violence on the street already today and I lost a kid to gunplay and I didn't want to see it happening to anyone else," Roney said.
In 1995, Roney's son, Korey, died in a drive-by shooting at 34th and Orchard. His killer, Raylon Young, is serving 65 years for the shooting. Witnesses say Young rode in a car and opened fire on an innocent crowd in the front yard. Korey Roney and a friend were wrestling in the front yard with several other friends looking on. They ran for their lives once the gunfire started, but one of the bullets caught Korey, killing him instantly.
This latest gun turn-in started earlier this week with ex-con Brian Abron, who decided to give up the street life. On Wednesday, Abron himself turned in an AK-47 and a MAC-10 assault weapon. Abron has since started getting calls from other young men in the city, saying if he can give up the street life, so can they.
Abron served a stint in prison after felony convictions. Now, he is hoping to land a job and steer other young men prone to gun violence in a better direction.
"They (the gang bangers) don't understand the real consequences of getting caught with an assault weapon and getting sent to prison for a long time. It's not worth the trouble," Abron said.
Abron also got Roney's attention on Eyewitness News. Both say turning in weapons, especially assault rifles, will not only save lives, but also a lifetime of pain.
Although it's been 18 years since he lost his son to gun violence, the memory still hurts Roney, one more reason he hopes others will help get guns off the street.
Pastor Roach, in the meantime, has set his sights on some lofty goals in the gun buyback program. He wants at least 1,000 other Indianapolis-area pastors to help facilitate collecting one assault rifle each.
"That is a thousand weapons that we can get off the street in a day and we know that a lot of these weapons have gangs behind them," Roach said.
Right now, anyone turning in an assault rifle will receive $300 cash, with no questions asked. There is also money paid for handguns and ammunition turned in.
Marion County Sheriff's deputies have spent the last couple of days picking up surrendered weapons from the East 38th Street church. In March, Roach and other clergy will meet with law enforcement officials to help facilitate getting even more guns off the streets.
"We know these weapons are linked to gang activity, drugs and crime. We want to help tackle all those issues which will help make our city a better place to live and work," he said.
Roach believes by acting as a liaison between people who carry or possess assault rifles and handguns illegally, they will be more apt to participate in the buyback program.