Savannah mayor, police chief urge gun safety amid surge in shootings

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Amid a surge of gun violence in the Hostess City, Mayor Van Johnson and Savannah’s police chief urged Savannahians to practice gun safety. In the past eight days in Chatham County, WSAV reported that six shootings left three dead and three others with non-life-threatening injuries.

“A 12-year-old handling a gun and shooting a 14-year old should not happen anywhere,” Savannah Police Department (SPD) Chief Roy Minter said referencing a shooting that involved a gun that was reported stolen Nov. 27. The teen was shot in the leg after the two were playing with the gun.

The wound was non-life-threatening, however, Minter said stolen guns continue to be used in crimes across the city. Minter said 169 guns have been stolen out of cars and 130 were stolen out of unlocked cars this year in Savannah.

Minter urged gun owners to be responsible and lock their cars if they leave guns in there, but preferably to secure them inside their homes. He also said anyone who needs a gun lock can visit one of SPD precincts to get a free one.

In the past eight days, WSAV has reported six shootings in Chatham County. In those half a dozen shootings, two lives were lost, one person was critically injured and three others suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Mayor Van Johnson said he considers gun violence to be a health issue and that Savannah will make changes to better reflect that.

“It’s an issue of trauma, it’s an issue of mental health and so in 2022 you will start seeing a pivot in terms of how we address it here in the city of Savannah,” Johnson said. “Really looking at it as a public health crisis because that’s what it is.”

Johnson blamed the easy access to guns and lack of gun safety and knowledge as some leading causes of gun violence. He again harped on the city’s attempts of getting interrupters into communities to get in between people and their decision to resort to gun violence.

He also said he wants to make residents and visitors feel safe regardless of where they are in the Hostess City.

“We have to get people to walk away… we have to get people to make smarter decisions,” Johnson says. “We need mothers and fathers and loved ones to get in and deescalate, calm this person down, say ‘let it go,’ to take the gun.”

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