Officers hold gun buy back program

February 9, 2008 7:39:03 PM PST
As Oakland police officers hold a gun buyback program today at three locations in the city, homicide detectives are investigating three fatal shootings that occurred within 13 hours of each other Friday and today.

Hundreds of people turned up in Oakland on Saturday to cash in on gun buy-back program. In fact, so many people showed up, organizers ran out of money.

The lines were long at an Oakland Baptist church, as people were eager to trade their guns for cash.

"I turned a 357 Magnum, one that I don't need and In exchange I turned in, no questions asked and I received $250 dollars cash," said a participant on the gun buy back program.

The appeal for getting cash back from turning in a gun was such a big incentive; organizers ran out of money in an hour. Nearly $82,000 dollars was gone, and cops had to step in and write "IOU's."

The local police department matched that and handed out IOU's, and we'll be paying for the rest of the guns. We'll all open up our wallets and chip in," said Officer Ronald Holmgren from the Oakland Police Department.

James Williams turned in a bag of nine guns, all from elderly residents at his retirement home.

"They had all had them for a long, long time. They had been in families for generations and they just thought it was time to give them up," said Williams.

Some here say they showed up to turn in a gun because they simply had enough of Oakland violence.

On Friday night, there were five shooting in the city, three people were killed. Senator Don Perata, who organized the gun buy back program himself was carjacked at gunpoint in December.

It happened on broad daylight at 51st and Shattuck.

"It is awful. It is like living in a war zone and until we acknowledge that the old saying that guns don't kill people, people kill people ? guns kill people," said State Senate President Don Perata.

Senator Perata was partly prompted to stage the event, when 10-year-old Christopher Rodriguez was hit by a stray bullet while taking a piano lesson in January.

The shooting left the boy paralyzed.

"If we can get one gun off the street that has the potential of taking a sacred, then this gun turn in has been successful," said a gun buy back supporter.

Senator Perata says all of that cash today handed out during the gun buy back program, came from private donations, from people that he collected it from over the last month.