December 19, 2014

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Lorain’s underground arsenal

LORAIN — A sawed-off shotgun, a semiautomatic handgun and a high-powered rifle are just some of the weapons the Lorain Police Department has taken off the streets so far this year.

Just a portion of the full bounty, which totaled 72 guns, was laid out Wednesday in a room at the police department and filled several tables. It included 30 guns seized in drug raids as well as many weapons that have been reported stolen or are connected to other criminal cases. The remaining guns were confiscated by police officers and detectives during the course of their investigations.

JASON MILLER / CHRONICLE
Lorain police Sgt. Roger Watkins holds a Tech-9 handgun, one of the 72 guns confiscated by the Lorain Narcotics Unit this year.

With more than four months left in the year, four more guns have been seized than the total number confiscated in 2006, police Sgt. Roger Watkins said.

“Hopefully, this sends a message that the Lorain Police Department is aggressively trying to address gun complaints in the city by taking guns off the streets and out of the hands of would-be criminals,” Watkins said.

Gun violence has struck in all areas of the city and has affected many people.

Just Tuesday night, gunshots rang out on the 1400 block of East 29th Street and a 15-year-old was shot in the foot. Brandon Atkinson of Riverside Drive survived the attack and is doing OK, said his grandmother Shirley Atkinson. She only wishes it would have never happened.

“I think it’s a shame people are just turning to guns whenever they feel like it,” she said. “It needs to stop. All this violence is not solving anything.”

Atkinson has dealt with more than her fair share of gun violence this year. Several months ago, Atkinson said her son, Bryan, was shot in the stomach outside the now-closed Flamingo Nite Club. He, too, survived, but not before spending two weeks in the hospital and traveling back and forth to Cleveland for several weeks of outpatient follow-up care.

“It was a long, hard process, and I didn’t know if he was going to live. And now, we are dealing with the same thing all over again with Brandon,” she said.

The fact that 72 guns were seized this year doesn’t surprise her because, she said, she knows there are more out on the streets.

“The police are doing a good job, but people are hiding what’s really going on,” she said.

Others have not been as fortunate as her son.

This year, police have investigated six shooting deaths and numerous other crimes where guns were used. The most recent fatal shooting took place last month when 34-year-old Lewis Turner, of Lorain, was shot to death at the Oberlin Avenue McDonald’s restaurant while patrons and employees watched. Police said drugs are believed to have played a part in the crime.

Watkins said drugs and guns often go hand-in-hand.

The last two handguns seized were picked up Tuesday during a narcotics raid on Lexington Avenue. There, Watkins said, the Lorain Narcotics Unit and SWAT Team found the guns inside the home along with more than $2,000 in crack cocaine and several hundred dollars in cash.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.