ALBANY — With nighttime bursts of gunfire a regular occurrence in city neighborhoods in recent weeks, Albany police are trying to determine if there is a common denominator.
As of Friday, Albany Police Department Chief Michael Persley could not give a motive for the Wednesday and Thursday shootings that left three wounded, including a teenager in the latter assault.
“Historically, we’ve seen (waves of) certain types of crimes such as drive-by shootings, gang activity,” Persley said.
The chief said he expects that the investigation will reveal whether the shootings stem from a cycle of retaliatory assaults due to a previous incident or if it involves gangs.
“That’s where we move the investigation, to find the motive,” he said. “Oftentimes we have had incidents where they were a continuation between something else that was going on.”
The police department is concentrating efforts on neighborhoods where the incidents are occurring.
“We are looking at crime trends and moving our resources around,” Persley said.
But officers can’t be everywhere, and it is apparent that the assailants, some of whom have felony records, are acquiring guns illegally. For the general public, that means making sure their firearms don’t end up in the hands of criminals.
“People (are) having firearms stolen from their vehicles or residence,” Persley said. “That’s why we ask people to secure their firearms.”
Persley also said he expects the reopening of criminal courtrooms in the county to have an impact.
The Georgia Supreme Court gave the green light on Thursday to resume grand jury proceedings and is expected in an October order to allow jury trials to recommence. As criminal cases move forward and convictions are made, some of those who are involved in the violence will be sent to prison instead of returned to the street on bail.
Persley also asked that churches and individuals exert an influence on young people as there is a trend of participants in violence being younger and younger.
“We need to make sure they’re influenced by something (more positive) than what they are being influenced by,” he said.