RICHMOND, Va. -- Gun violence took center stage at the CBS 6 STOP the Violence Townhallon Thursday night, with many residents asking Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards for insights on what Richmond Police officers are seeing and recovering.
Edwards answered one Richmond resident directly in saying the department has not seen a wave of “ghost guns” produced by 3D printers. However, he cautioned that they have witnessed a concerning number of firearms being altered to function as automatic weapons.
"Look at the kids who've been shot by stray bullets or the ones that have gone through a wall. It's awful and shouldn't be going on," said Edwards.
Nichole Dechick, a resident living close to the recent shooting incident at Adams and Broad streets said she feared being hit by a stray bullet.
"There's no need for anyone to have a gun that goes ‘duh dud duh dud,’” said Dechick, mimicking the sound of rapidly firing bullets.
Dechick, an amputee, shared her terrifying experience of having to protect her four-month-old granddaughter during the incident by placing her on her back and sliding to safety.
Woman terrified of being hit by stray bullet put granddaughter on her back, slid to safety
"It was really scary to have to get on my stomach and crawl while worried about the baby, that something would happen to her or me," Dechick recalled.
Mayor Levar Stoney, who was unable to attend the town hall due to another commitment, previously mentioned his own concern over firearms being altered to automatic styles.
Stoney conveyed his views to Commonwealth Attorney Colette McEachin, who was part of the panel at Thursday’s town hall, emphasizing the need for stricter penalties for individuals modifying weapons.
"When a handgun becomes a weapon of war, I believe that anyone who alters a handgun and uses it in the commission of a crime should face tougher sentencing. That's why we are collaborating with the Commonwealth Attorney and federal authorities to ensure that those who use these weapons during crimes are held accountable and receive lengthy sentences," stated Stoney.
As Operation Safe Summer continues in the city, authorities have already confiscated 47 illegal guns from the streets in the past 28 days. The initiative aims to curb gun violence and maintain community safety.
Local leaders and law enforcement vow to work together to combat the problem but say they also need the public’s help to alleviate firearm-related incidents.
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