More patrols, gun buyback program aim to curb citywide violence

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 11, 2012 at 9:46 PM

Updated Friday, May 11 at 10:02 PM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - T.J. Jefferson has lived in the Irish Channel for 18 years. But a recent wave of violence has him on alert.

"We've seen a lot of shooting around through here, last week and this week," said Jefferson on his front porch.

In the latest shooting, a bullet shattered Jefferson's front windshield.

"If I'd have been in the car, I probably would have gotten shot myself," said Jefferson.

Police said at least half a dozen shots were fired near the corner of Chippewa and Washington last Wednesday. According to the Uptown Messenger, police believe the shots were exchanged between juveniles in a silver Range Rover and dark-colored sedan, who may be connected to a school bus shooting in the Irish Channel last month.

In an effort to curb the violence, more than 40 officers have been deployed to patrol the Irish Channel and Central City, which has also seen increased bloodshed.

"Handguns in the hands of dangerous people committing dangerous acts are killing far too many people in our community," said New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas.

And, for the first time since 2008, the gun buyback program is back in New Orleans. Previously in Jefferson Parish, it's an effort to get guns off the street.

"A gun buyback program is a symbolic message if nothing else," said Serpas. "It's a message that we will work with people, more often than not young people, to remove from the streets of our community dangerous weapons."

People who turn in working hand guns or assault rifles will walk away with cash, no questions asked. $10,000 is up for grabs Saturday morning for unwanted guns. But Jefferson isn't convinced the program will have a direct effect on what's going on in his neighborhood.

"It's important to get them off the street, but I don't think it's going to do [any] good," said Jefferson. "Someone turns in one or two guns, they [have] got more guns."

Still, organizers believe the murder rate would be even higher if the gun buyback program didn't exist.

The gun buyback begins at 9 o'clock Saturday morning at the Little Zion Baptist Church on Earhart Boulevard.

The program pays $75 for handguns and $200 for assault rifles.

This story was developed with our partners at the Uptown Messenger. Read more at www.uptownmessenger.com.

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