The Marion County sheriff says a recent town hall meeting on youth violence is already beginning to yield results, and now he’s beginning to carry out a plant aimed to building on that success.
When Brian Abron attended the youth violence town hall meeting at Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis last week, the 27-year-old man said he made a decision to leave a life of street crime behind.
“It’s a time where you say enough is enough,” Abron said. “Instead of being part of the problem, I’d rather be the solution to the problem.”
Abron says he began drug dealing when he was 13. Now, 14 years later, he says it’s easier than ever for children to get into it and get their hands on illegal guns.
“It’s like you can go to McDonald’s to get some food, you can go knock on a door and get a gun,” Abron said.
Abron spent time in prison for drug dealing and possession in the early 2000’s, only to return to his old ways.
He just recently decided to make a change after learning that he was going to become a father. He attended last week’s meeting and decided to turn in his guns, including a semi-automatic rifle and 100 round clip, to the Marion County Sheriff.
“He indicated to me that there could be several more coming,” Sheriff John Layton said. “He thinks that he can get a lot more of them off the street.”
Layton is now working with Abron and several area pastors and jail chaplains in hopes of finding a way to raise funds for a potential gun buy back program, which would entice more people to come forward.
The meeting between the faith-based community and Sheriff Layton was spearheaded by the leader of the First Christian Baptist Church in Indianapolis. Last spring, there was a SWAT standoff at the church after Bishop Damon Roach’s grandson shot at him inside the church. Roach was not hurt, but he says he was forever changed.
“This sanctuary I almost lost my life in because of an illegal gun,” Roach said.
Sheriff Layton says his plans don’t stop with guns and they extend beyond the faith-based community. He says he’s already begun asking deputies to talk to local businesses during their shifts, and ask them to consider hiring young people.
“All I’m asking my deputies to do is go back to these people and tell them to give a kid a chance,” Layton said.
First Christian Baptist Church is also getting on board with that effort. The church has a beauty and barber school inside and several instructors say they’re willing to volunteer their time.
“So we’re willing to make our building available, our school available, and the course we’re willing to do for free to get these young folks,” Bishop Roach said. “We have to give them something to do.”
Abron says that’s important because when he was young he says he didn’t have anyplace or anyone to turn to.
“I didn’t have no guidance,” Abron said. “So what I seen as a kid, that’s what I wanted to be.”
“What I want to show is that (those kids) are accepted by the sheriff, they’re accepted by the citizens of Marion County that own businesses, that we’re accepting them too,” Sheriff Layton said.
Abron says he’s planning to help motivate other young people to give up lives of crime and turn their lives around. Sheriff Layton says he’ll be meeting with the pastors again soon to begin looking into ways to involve the entire community and to raise money for a gun buy back program.
Layton says he’s heard very little from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department regarding partnering on solutions, but he says he remains open to working together. He also plans to attend the next town hall meeting on the west side in the coming weeks.