First arrest, $1,000 reward in new gun bounty program

- Within 24 hours of putting a bounty on illegal weapons, Tampa Police got their first gun in the new "See it, Say it, Stop it" program, aimed at taking illegal guns off of the streets.

The gun bounty program encourages people to call the Crimestoppers Tipline anonymously to turn people in with illegal guns. If the tip leads officers to a firearm and an arrest, the tipster is awarded $1,000.

"One of the slogans that we use is, 'Crime doesn't pay, but Crimestoppers does,'" said Steve Hegarty, spokesperson for the Tampa Police Department.

The first success came last week with the arrest of 18-year-old Shakorreon Elijah Hall.

Crimestoppers released grainy surveillance pictures from on board a HART bus of a man who snatched a backpack from another passenger as the victim was sleeping. Inside the backpack was a cell phone and a pair of sneakers.

The victim woke up in time to see the suspect walking off the bus with his belongings. He chased the suspect into an alley way.

"Out there, the suspect pulled a gun on him, so the guy essentially was robbed twice," said Hegarty.

The victim's wallet was stolen in the second incident. A tip led police to Hall and the weapon he allegedly used during the armed robbery.

Hall was charged with robbery with a firearm and petty theft. He is currently in the Hillsborough County Jail being held on a $50,500 bond.

"We're at a point now where we're unsafe walking in our community, and there's no safe neighborhoods," said State Attorney Mark Ober, during a public announcement of the new gun bounty program on February 9.

"These guns, these illegal guns that kill and maim our families, our community, our children, must stop," added Ober.

Last year, the State Attorney's Office had 688 gun prosecutions. Those individuals committed 953 crimes with illegal guns.

No taxpayer money is going into the program. It will be funded by money collected from criminal defendants.

Unlike a typical gun buyback program, rather than destroying the weapons collected, they will go into police storage and be used in criminal cases against those arrested.

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