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Clearwater, Largo police to offer gift cards for guns

Police in Clearwater and Largo are going to try a new tactic to get guns off the street: They're going to buy them — no questions asked.

On June 10, the two police departments will exchange gift cards for guns at three locations in an effort to reduce gun violence and negligence.

"The goal is to get unwanted or illegal guns out of the community," said Clearwater Deputy Police Chief Sandra Wilson. Even legal guns can be stolen and wind up in the hands of criminals, she said.

Turning in an assault weapon would be rewarded with a $100 gift card. Owners of other guns would get a $50 card. Those 16 and under also can exchange BB guns for a $50 card. The gift cards are for various gas stations, restaurants, and Walmart, Target and other stores.

Police will set up stations at the North Greenwood Recreation Complex and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, both in Clearwater, and Highland Presbyterian Church in Largo. The buyback program lasts from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The gun buyback is Clearwater's first such program. It's Wilson's first public initiative as deputy police chief.

Working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Orlando, Wilson said she saw law enforcement agencies there successfully buy back numerous weapons — everything from assault weapons to antiques.

The gun buyback comes on the heels of a weeklong spate of violence in April that took the lives of two men in Clearwater's North Greenwood neighborhood.

On April 3, 23-year-old Derrick Kelly Harris and 30-year-old William John Hamilton were fatally shot during an outdoor gathering near LaSalle Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

Despite a $5,000 reward that has been offered, police still are looking for the suspect in that case, 22-year-old Bryan Caldwell, who is wanted on two counts of second-degree murder.

On April 8, Clearwater police said, some people in a car opened fire on a group of people gathered outside Harris' home on Metto Street. Tristan Hilton, 20, was shot several times but survived. Police have not named any suspects in that case.

Times staff writer Rita Farlow contributed to this report.

ast facts

Gun buyback

The program runs from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 10 at three locations:

• North Greenwood Recreation Complex, 900 N Martin Luther King Ave., Clearwater

• Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 400 S Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

• Highland Presbyterian Church, 1885 Highland Ave., Largo

Clearwater, Largo police to offer gift cards for guns 05/24/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 27, 2011 11:36am]
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