Jerome Cannon was shot and killed last month in a dispute that erupted over a dice game, the latest victim of gun violence in Schenectady.
His killer remains at large, but city and community officials hope a new gun buy-back effort will help get weapons off the street and prevent the next killing.
“Nobody’s life needs to be taken over a freaking dice game,” Cannon’s mother, Shawna Chandler-Duboise, said Tuesday evening at an event kicking off the program. “It takes a coward to kill somebody in cold blood like that.”
Pastor Charlie Muller of Victory Christian Church in Albany is bringing a program that has been successful in his city to Schenectady and Troy.
The program, funded by the church, offers $150 gift cards to Crossgates Mall in exchange for a gun. The program began in Albany in May and has since removed 80 guns from the street, Muller said.
The program follows two other efforts earlier this year in Schenectady, one an amnesty program and another a buy-back program, efforts that had mixed results.
“We’re sending the message clear that the city of Schenectady is tired with it. We’re not going to put up with the gun violence,” Muller said.
Those wanting to turn in a gun can call Muller at 209-3557. A message at that number notes that everything is confidential.
Muller also announced a $1,500 reward for information leading to Cannon’s killer. Chandler-Duboise cried when she heard of the reward. Cannon’s sister, Yalonda Cannon, comforted her.
Cannon, 20, of Congress Street, was shot Sept. 13 on Lincoln Avenue. He was the sixth person killed by gunshot in Schenectady this year.
Muller was joined by Pastor Ted Ward of the Koinoia Christian Ministries in Schenectady and the Rev. Willie Bacote of the Missing Lunch Street Ministry in Troy.
The pastors then led a group of several dozen on a march around the Hamilton Hill neighborhood.
Tuesday’s event was attended by Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett, Police Chief Mark R. Chaires and Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney.
Bennett noted police had a call for shots fired on Stanley Street less than two hours before the buy-back event. No one was injured and police were questioning suspects.
“Here’s another group of people that just don’t have the message,” Bennett said. “That’s what this march tonight is all about. Something has to be done here. A lot of innocent lives are being ruined.”