|Updated: 2/21/2013 9:24 am
||Published: 2/20/2013 7:47 pm
For Tulsa Police Homicide Sergeant Dave Walker talking about felons and guns is like playing a broken record.
“Ex-cons and criminals with guns, that's kind what we deal with,” Sergeant Walker told FOX23.
Earlier this month, Tulsa Police arrested two brothers suspected in a quadruple murder of four women at Tulsa’s Fairmont Terrace apartments.
Cedric and James Poore both had felony convictions on their records, both had served time in prison, and police say at least one of them had a gun.
“With the Poore brothers, they weren't really out prison long before this happened, so it's hard to get them back on our radar screen,” Walker said.
One key argument from those who oppose gun control is that criminals will get the guns regardless of the law.
FOX23 ran a search in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections database searching for all Tulsa County prisoners who were sent away on gun-related convictions last year.
After looking through the more than 200 inmates that came up in the search, FOX23 discovered 114 were felons, caught with guns. Those felons got slapped with an AFCF which means After Former Conviction of a Felony.
All of those felons ignored the rules. Three used a gun to murder someone. Von Butler shot gang associate Mark Williams in 2007, Adonis Crane shot Cedric Ball Junior at Seminole Hills apartments in 2010, and Jerrod Huey admitted shooting Johnny Dean and dumping his body at an abandoned house in north Tulsa in 2011.
“I don't think that we can ask the ex cons, the gangsters, the murders in this town to bring us their guns and we'll give them ball bats or something,” Walker said.
In the past, Walker says joint efforts among local, state, and federal offices have been successful.
“The way we can do that is target those individuals, and the way we do that is you that periodically we do the sweeps the gang unit and the task forces all use.”
Special operations like the Triple Beam sweeps that have helped police find dozens of suspected gang members for a variety of offenses. In those sweeps, felons with firearms are arrested on the spot.
“We have to do that 12 months out of the year, 365 days of the year, we just can't do it two months and say, ‘We're good.’”
Most of the prisoners FOX23 found while searching the DOC database were busted while committing another crime, such as brothers Micah and Kenneth Harris. The brothers were convicted felons who pulled a violent robbery at south Tulsa coffee shop.
Walker has no idea how many felons out there have guns. He says his department is doing what it can with the resources it has.
“How do we put a number to the ones we stop? We are stopping criminals with guns all the time; I see them come through here all the time.”
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma, Danny Williams, told FOX23 there’s no hiding it, felons getting hands on guns is a problem in Tulsa. His office can ask a judge or jury to impose tougher penalties for felons with guns. In fiscal year 2012, his office opened 107 firearms related investigations. Many of those investigations are related to felons getting their hands on guns illegally.
"They're not getting them through legitimate means they're either stealing them or buying them off the street. We're doing the best that we can. We're trying to be very aggressive in our prosecutions, but it is frustrating,” Williams told FOX23.
Williams agrees with Walker, it’s hard, but not impossible to keep guns from felons. He says you can never expect them to follow the rules.
“The solution is not just law enforcement; it's not practical to think that we can lock everyone up.”
Williams echoes Sergeant Walker and says more sweeps could be the most effective way to be proactively keep guns out of the hands of felons, but the problem is resources.
"Sure, if I could hire two or more prosecutors we could do more cases, but the fact of the matter is we're looking at cuts in two weeks, and we're just looking to keep the people that we have."
Williams says bottom line, felons need to feel that carrying a gun is a much bigger risk than not. He says only time will change the attitude of these felons.
“If you want to choose a life of crime, you're going to see a person like me or Tim Harris at some point in your life or you're going to see the bottom of a grave.”