“Come on, we’ll meet you at the gas station on Michigan Road,” said Bishop Damon Roach of First Christian Baptist Church. “He says he’ll meet us there.”
The “He” Roach referred to is an ex-gang member who has joined his church, is struggling to go straight now that he’s out of prison and is using the bishop’s money to get guns off Indianapolis’ streets.
An hour later, I sat in the front seat of a beat up blue pickup truck next to the former gang member as he described how a friend got in touch and told him he had a couple guns to unload.
“You on your way over there now to get the guns?” I asked.
“They’re right under your feet,” he said, pointing to floor boards of the truck.
Under the passenger seat was a pump shotgun and MAC10 semi-automatic.
Bishop Roach pulled an envelope out of his pocket and counted out six crisp $100 bills.
“I’ll be back after I pay him,” said the ex-gang member as he pulled away.
Two hours later, two Marion County Sheriff’s deputies and Captain Mike Hubbs were in the sanctuary of the church, tagging and collecting the weapons.
“What we’re really trying to get off the streets are these Tec 9s, AR 15s, AKs,” said Roach. “We’re trying to get these high powered weapons off the streets because they’re the ones that can kill innocent people blocks and blocks down the road.”
Tuesday night, Roach and his parishioner were profiled on Fox59 News as they explained their plan to spend $10,000 of foundation money buying guns to turn over to the sheriff for destruction.
That story led to a phone call from the Marion County Jail as an offender told Fox59 News he’s ready to tell friends to turn in their guns to avoid his fate of a weapons arrest.
Alfred Hayes is a convicted felon who was arrested late last year with a gun.
“There may be some that may want to keep it, you know. Some just ain’t had enough, some ain’t been in this situation with the judge talking about 12-15 years and all that so they ain’t had enough of it… but there might be some that think too there’s gotta be something better out here,” said Hayes.
Bishop Roach is working with a man who was recently released from prison to reach gang members in the streets with his offer to buy back guns no questions asked.
Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon there will be a Gang Awareness & Intervention Workshop held at the Monument Lighthouse Charter School at 4002 N. Franklin Rd.
A flier has been sent out to all public housing residents in Indianapolis recommending that they attend the workshop with their children.
“There is a place where you can go to get this kind of help,” said longtime Laurelwood resident Sandra Bailey, who plays an active role in her community’s residents’ council. “I believe in reach one, teach one.”
Bailey said that life in her south side community has improved as crime has dropped 50 percent over the last seven years.
“Before you couldn’t even get a pizza delivery in Laurelwood but today you can and that right there says a lot.”