York City officials have announced a new initiative born of efforts to save some young lives and curb the city's ongoing problem with street violence.
"I say enough is enough," Mayor Kim Bracey said from the steps of the police department Thursday. "We must start speaking up and taking purpose-driven action."
The police department will now accept illegal guns surrendered anonymously at 50 W. King St - "no questions asked."
Bracey called the press conference in response to the city's most recent homicide.
Joseph A. Gomez Jr., 17, died Saturday in the McDonald's parking lot at 142 S. George St. - just across the street from City Hall.
Authorities have said Gomez was shot multiple times.
"We're talking about kids who should be graduating," Bracey said. "I had to do something."
The mayor pleaded with the community and families "to recognize the warning signs" of young people engaged in violent and potentially violent lifestyles.
The city does "not wish to arrest our way out of this matter," she said.
"We need these guns off our streets and out of the hands of young people," the mayor said.
Bracey promised "no judgment" of people who turn guns in to police. Firearms can be dropped off at the police department, 50 W. King St.
Police Chief Wes Kahley asked that people inform the police department about an illegal gun first through the city's anonymous tip lines. Call 849-2204 or text YORKTIPS at 847411.
Folks uncomfortable working directly with the police department can involve a third party they trust, Kahley said.
"The ball is in your court," he said.
York NAACP President and local attorney Sandra Thompson offered her 351 E. Princess St. law office as an alternative drop-off spot. Thompson said she'll turn guns over to the police department.
Pastor Danny Evans, who works as the police department's community and youth outreach coordinator, offered to help family members of troubled young people. They can call him at 812-8383, he said.
"You've got to let somebody know you've got trouble," Evans said. "Don't be so proud."
Evans also had a message for young people involved with drugs and gangs.
"There is no excuse," he said. "Who sold you the lie?"
Not everyone gathered at Thursday's press conference welcomed the mayor's announcement with open arms.
Manuel Gomez, a Libertarian candidate for York City Council, questioned the timing of a press conference called to address street violence a month before city Democrats nominate Bracey or challenger Carol Hill-Evans as the city's next mayor.
"She said, 'Enough is enough,' I say, too little too late," Gomez said. "Don't wait until election season when a murder happens in the core of your downtown."
- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.