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CHESAPEAKE --In a second community meeting called since two young men were shot to death July 1, Police Chief Kelvin Wright made good on a promise to explore a gun buyback program in Chesapeake.
The department is looking to partner with major retailers to provide gift cards in exchange for the weapons this fall, Wright told an audience of nearly 300 who filled pews at Bethany Baptist Church in South Norfolk on Thursday night.
If that doesn't happen, the chief said, money would be available to move forward with the program anyway.
Wright said participants would not be asked for identification and would not have to undergo background checks.
The gathering of residents, police officers and school and city officials was meant to follow up on one convened just days after the killings of Lonnie Andrews Jr., 18, and Dontrell Whitehurst, 26.
Andrews' family came to both the first and second meetings, this time wearing T-shirts with the teenager's name and photograph. The Oscar Smith High School graduate had planned to attend college this fall on a football scholarship.
Although Andrews and Whitehurst were shot about four miles apart within 12 hours of each other, police have said the killings do not appear to be related.
Arrests have been made in both cases, and the two suspects remain in custody awaiting preliminary hearings next month.
Those who spoke at the July 10 meeting recommended the gun buyback program. Wright promised to look into it, saying if it was financially possible he would do it.
One youth suggested making Chesapeake's community centers free for young people, arguing that they'd be more apt to use them and stay off the streets.
City officials said Thursday night that the fees would be waived for those under 18, but also called on people to volunteer time there.
Wright said the police department plans to address curfew violations and expand the police science academy for children, if approved by the school system, to build relationships between young people and the police.
He also said the department plans to continue its street crimes unit that focuses on crime hot spots.
"Our goal is to make that a permanent part of the police department," Wright said.
Kristin Davis, (757) 222-5208,