New grant targets gun violence among teens

[anvplayer video=”5116395″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — We’re seeing a lot of initiatives to fight the crime problem in our city but, as you know, violent crime keeps on happening. Now, a city program is targeting teens and gun violence with a new grant.

It comes after, police say, Marcus Trejo, 14, shot and killed Andrew Burson, 16, Feb. 25, over what may have been a stolen gun. Trejo is still awaiting trial.

The shooting occurred just outside of West Mesa High School, which has been selected to be a part of the grant-funded pilot program to curb violence among teens.

“In the schools, one person can create a lot more violence in the schools and I think that’s what Albuquerque is afraid of,” said Gerri Bachicha, the deputy director of the City of Albuquerque’s Violence Intervention Program.

Bachicha says this 18-month-long program will identify and work with at-risk students who may become involved in the cycle of gun violence. It’s being funded with a portion of a $950,000 grant.

“What we’re doing is intervening with students that already have some tendencies or have been disciplined for having been involved in violence against another student or staff member in the school,” Bachicha said.

The goal of the program is also to find a way to sustain and expand it. According to Bachicha, such an effort will heavily involve community members and leaders to pinpoint solutions.

This comes during a time when Albuquerque city leaders are pushing for crime-fighting initiatives involving guns and kids, like bringing back the Bennie Hargrove Act that failed in the Legislature.

The Bennie Hargrove Act would hold parents or guardians accountable for gun crimes committed by their children. The bill was developed in memory of Albuquerque student Bennie Hargrove, who was shot and killed on the campus of Washington Middle School last August.