ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Gun violence has been debated nationally with recent mass shootings. The Capital Region has recently seen its share of gun crime as well.
One new police chief has been hitting the ground running with recent incidents, while one local pastor said it’s time to turn in your gun and turn a new leaf.
With not even a full week on the job, Watervliet’s new police chief, Joseph Centanni, has his hands full with recent gun violence. “Gun violence is real in this country and it impacts all communities. It’s not a one size fits all,” he said.
The first incident was on Sunday, April 4 at about 2:15 a.m. Officers responded to the 1900 block of 9th Avenue in Watervliet for reports of shots fired. There were no suspects or victims located on the scene.
The second incident occurred on Wednesday, April 7. A Troy teen was arrested for firing shots through the Watervliet Housing Authority’s Joslin Apartment Complex. Officers found a bullet entry hole in an exterior building wall that traveled through several interior apartment walls.
“That bullet traveled through several walls and ultimately landed in the bedroom of a 6-year-old child. That child was sleeping and the bullet was four and a half feet away, above her head,” Centanni said.
A former Troy police officer, Chief Centanni said these acts of violence impacting children hit close to home. Since last year, Troy has seen two drive-by shootings, the tragic death of 11-year-old Ayshawn Davis, and 12-year-old MJ Rivera paralyzed from the waist down.
“When officers see those child victims of any violence, more times than not they see their own families,” Centanni said.
Pastor Charlie Muller from Victory Church in Albany has also seen how children have been affected by gun violence. He said the Capital Region needs to get dangerous weapons off the street. “We are open to anything. We just want to see some policies put in place, especially targeted areas over our cities where there’s more violence. We also need to pay attention to it,” Pastor Charlie said.
In this day and age, many people are afraid to speak up about or help address gun violence. Pastor Muller said voices in the community need to be heard more than ever. “We want you to put the guns down so that you can benefit, not go to jail, and not end up killing innocent people,” he said.
The Victory Church plans on holding a spring gun buy-back program in May.