AUGUSTA, Ga. – After a recent increase in gun violence in Augusta, The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is cracking down. Sheriff Roundtree says this new initiative will put the highest focus on taking firearms out of the hands of convicted felons and those who mean to do harm. He hopes the program will stop 2016 from being a historically violent year.
“Before this becomes an epidemic I think we’d be remiss as the Sheriff’s office, as a community partner, if we don’t get out in front of it,” says Sheriff Roundtree.
Richmond County is experiencing a bump in violent crimes in the early part of 2016. The Sheriff’s Office is addressing the issue with an effort seizing 500 illegal guns in 100 days through a new initiative they announced Wednesday called “Suns Out, Guns Out of the Wrong Hands.” Sheriff Roundtree says, “Our aggravated assaults with weapons are up 14 percent this year. That is a problem. So we’re going to target for 100 days, if we can get 500 illegal firearms we think that will make a difference.”
The Chaps Lane brawl that ended with the death of 18-year-old Demahjay Bell spurred the Sheriff’s Office to act on the violence. Roundtree explains, “The large fight among the two groups, I think that was the tipping point for us as a community. To say before this thing gets out of hand, we need to throw resources at this. We don’t want to have a record number year for violence and we saw the common theme.”
District Attorney Ashley Wright says the DA and Sheriff’s Office will pool their resources to clean up the streets. Wright says, “We’re going to start looking for patterns, we’re going to start looking for links and we’re going to be working with the Sheriff’s Office to figure out which of those peoples are truly the ones who have a propensity to commit violence.”
The RCSO is hoping to get the community involved by giving out a number for residents to call, and if their tip leads to an arrest, they will be rewarded 200 dollars. That number to call is 1-866-939-5050.
“We can’t do it alone, we’ve always believed in partnerships and like I said in the news conference, if we do not have that community support, this situations only going to get worse,” says Roundtree.
The Suns Out Guns Out of the Wrong Hands program will start May 5th and last one hundred days until August 12th.