Police, clergy work to get guns, gang activity off streets

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The city wants citizens to become street wise about gang activity.

Marion County Sheriff's Department deputies picked up two weapons from First Christian Missionary Baptist Church on East 38th Street Wednesday afternoon.

Pastor Damon Roach says the guns used to belong to gang members. Roach is willing to pay cash money to people who are willing to turn over dangerous weapons just to get them off the streets.

"We are trying to educate our young people so many of them are being killed on the street, because you can pick up these weapons from any where," Roach said.

Getting guns off the street is one of the hot topics Metro police gang expert Lt. Chris Bailey plans to talk to parents about in a free Gang Awareness Event on March 2. The seminar is open to the public.

Bailey believes kids' first exposure to gangs often happens in school and after that, it can be all downhill.

"Turns into robberies and shootings and homicides and things like that. We want to prevent those kids from joining those gangs in the first place," Bailey said.

Bailey agrees getting guns out of the hands of children is a good start. Roach hopes parents are willing to learn more about gang activity and help get guns like the 12-gauge and a MAC 10 automatic weapon turned in Wednesday at the church.

Ex-con Brian Abron, 27, is facilitating the surrender of illegal weapons from men in his age group.

"There are a lot of young men calling me, saying, 'If I can turn my life around and turn in the guns I used to carry, they can do it, too," Abron said.

He believes the young men who are involved in gang activity don't understand the scope of prison time they face for gun crimes. He hopes now that he has turned his back on the streets, he can help more gang members come clean.

Abron's biggest challenge is finding a job, despite his checkered past. He also wants to provide a better life for his son.

Other parents will have the opportunity to learn more about gang activity signs in the upcoming public forum. Law enforcement gang experts, prosecutors and other community leaders will expose what gang activity lurks among high schoolers and young adults and why they can be easily recruited in criminal groups.

Police say gang members are responsible for everything from burglaries, robberies and even many homicides. Roach is convinced if the parents learn about the signs of gang activity, they can better work with their children.

"We need to educate our parents on what's happening with our kids. They can help police make neighborhoods and schools gang-free," Roach said.