GBI investigating Savannah gun buy-back program

SAVANNAH, Ga. – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is officially looking into possible theft involving one of the city’s premiere buy-back programs.

On Friday District Attorney Meg Heap, after receiving a request obtain by WSAV, from Chatham County Manager Lee Smith, asked the GBI for a ‘criminal investigation into the allegation” of “possible theft of firearms” involving a surrender of firearms collected from Savannah Youth City, Inc’s Guy buy-back program.

“To get to the truth of what some of the issues were to go ahead and ask,” County Manager Lee Smith said. “And I talked with the D.A., with Meg Heap, and she agreed to go to the GBI so we are going forward with that and we will clean it up.”

The program began in 2016 which allowed people to turn in gun, legal or not,for money, with no questions asked. Georgia is one of less than a dozen states that prohibit law enforcement from destroying seized weapons. Since it began the program has given thousands of dollars for weapons.

Savannah City Alderman Van Johnson has been a long-time supporter of the program. He says, “in an effort to get guns out of the hands of those who should not have them, primarily our young people, and off the streets of Savannah.”

In a written statement to WSAV, Johnson said, “From the inception of this program to present, I have remained in constant consultation and coordination with law enforcement agencies on the local and federal levels, whose ability to dispose of weapons whose owners can not be located or have no evidentiary value are also limited by outrageous gun laws.

If we had laws in Georgia that protected people more than guns, then gun buy back programs would not be necessary.

Investigations are necessary to establish facts and as the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is Georgia’s leading investigatory agency, I look forward to their findings.”

WSAV spoke with the GBI, now the leader in the investigation, who did not have any further comment, as the agency was made aware of the request on Friday.

The commission said the firearms were surrendered to Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team while the investigation is ongoing.

Stay with WSAV for the latest.

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