TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Following a recent string of gun violence incidents in Tallahassee, the Leon County Sheriff's Office is partnering with the U.S. Marshal's Office to get wanted criminals off the streets and illegal guns and drugs out of their hands.
Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil and Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida announced the joint task force Monday morning and pledged an "unprecedented commitment of federal, state and local resources" toward getting guns and drugs off the streets.
“This community is about to see an unprecedented show of force with a single focus – to make our neighborhoods safer by getting illegally possessed guns and drugs, as well as the criminals who use them off our streets,” Sheriff McNeil said.
This strike force consists of four teams who spent the day targeting the area's violent criminals in places that have become hot spots and handing out warrants.
This follows a string of more than 30 shootings in 2019, including a fatal shooting over the recent Memorial Day weekend. And after Leon County's crime rate has led the state for 4 years straight, local and federal leaders are saying it's time to put an end to this violence.
Using a gun in a drug deal or to commit a violent crime is a federal offense, with a minimum sentence of 10 years and, in some cases, life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“The considerable tools, resources and expertise of the appropriate federal law enforcement agencies will coordinate with and complement local law enforcement to help this community stem the rising flood of gun violence,” Keefe said. “Criminals be warned: If you commit a crime with a gun, these federal agencies are coming for you, and you’ll be put away in the federal prison system far from Tallahassee for as long as possible.”
Sheriff McNeil says this "strike force" is a long-term commitment and the community will see changes and safer neighborhoods starting Monday.
To help authorities curb gun violence in the community, the sheriff's office is asking that legal gun owners securely lock up their guns and avoid storing them in vehicles. According to LCSO, 12 guns were stolen from vehicles during car break-ins in the last month alone. Those guns often end up being used during crimes.
If you have a tip about someone criminally possessing a gun or committing an offense with a gun, call Big Bend Crime Stoppers at 850-574-TIPS or go online at bbcsi.org. You can also contact ATF at 1-888-ATF-TIPS or text ATFTAM to 63975.