MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The success surrounding Montgomery's youth gun initiative is undeniable, progress so great it's issued thousands in rewards.
Since July 1, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey's youth gun initiative has paid out nearly $2,500 for guns recovered from teens and the City of Montgomery paid out nearly $3,000 in a single gun buyback initiative. CrimeStoppers is involved in both programs, and takes the calls from tipsters reporting teens with firearms.
"Every case is different," said Tony Garrett, CrimeStoppers' executive director, "but it all stems from a juvenile thinking he needs a gun for his own protection or he's gotten with the wrong crowd. We are trying to take them off the streets before they actually do something bad with it."
Garrett is passionate about the program, and has seen the progress first hand.
"We pride ourselves in taking guns off the street," he explained, "and being that resource to the public where they can bring us a gun and know we are going to do something about it. Not only are we trying to get these guns off the streets, we are trying to get these students and juveniles some type of assistance."
In October, three guns were seized from teens who were paid $900 in rewards. The firearms ranged from assault rifles to handguns, a difficult reality for even seasoned law enforcement to wrap their minds around.
"In one case, a caller reported two individuals with an assault rifle walking behind a school bus," Garrett explained of the first case reported in October.
"A person found a gun on a juvenile that was going through bullying. He had the gun for protection and he felt he had to take it to school to stop the people from bullying," Garrett added.
Garrett said a grandfather noticed his grandson was acting out. After searching the teen's room, the grandfather found a gun tucked away in a weightlifting glove and turned it into CrimeStoppers.
While we will never know if the teens planned to use the firearms, Garrett is confident it's making difference and has likely saved lives.
"I don't have to be in front of you, telling you about this disaster that occurred at one of our schools," Garrett said of the seized weapons. "I'm telling you just the simple story of someone seeing a gun on a juvenile and calling police to get that gun away from that juvenile. To me, that's the best story ever. I would hate the see the reverse of that story of a kid with a gun, and no one called but he used it to kill someone. Those are the stories I don't want to be a part of."