“Too many guns on our streets”: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms addresses surging crime rates

ATLANTA — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she is fed up with the surge in crime in the city, saying if she could, she would “wave a wand or make a speech” to make it stop.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot was at City Hall Tuesday morning, where the mayor talked to reporters after the shooting death of a 15-year-old girl in Grant Park over the weekend.

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High school freshman Diamond Johnson was killed Sunday night after a fight between two groups of people at the Glenwood Park Shopping Plaza.

Police are still searching for the killer.

On Tuesday, rain fell over the stuffed animals, silk flowers and condolence crowds at the growing memorial for the Jonesboro teen outside a Waffle House.

“For the third time as mayor, I am standing here to talk about a bullet that took the life of a child in our city,” Bottoms said.

Bottoms said a phrase that sticks in her mind that comes from a childhood friend’s mother: “Stray bullets know no names.”

[RELATED: Crime stats, including murders, shootings, assaults, up drastically across Atlanta]

Bottoms said this rise in crime is personal for her. She recounted that someone was killed just a few houses away from her. She also said that sometimes not receiving a text from her son about his safety “takes years off her life.”

On Tuesday, Bottoms responded to mounting criticism of her handling of the rising crime problem.

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Bottoms said she has added more officers and technology to help with the rise in crime over the past several months. But despite removing thousands of guns and arresting hundreds of violent offenders, she said it is not enough.

She urged state leaders to look at Georgia’s gun safety laws.

“Out of all the states, our laws are some of the most lax,” Bottoms said. “Until that happens, I’m sad to say that this likely will not be the last time I stand here.”

Bottoms announced she is creating a small working group to make recommendations about what more they can do about the surge in crime. She said she is giving the group 30 to 45 days for short-term plans, and 90 days for long-term plans.

Bottoms also voiced her support and confidence for interim Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, saying that he came back from retirement to step into the role.

Bottoms also announced that she will submit his name as permanent chief of Atlanta police. The Atlanta City Council will vote on the appointment.

One of the Mayor’s leading critics and upcoming opponent Felicia Moore said in a statement that Bottoms’ plan does not go far enough.

“Another task force is like another plan. Atlanta can’t wait any longer. Bottom line, we need Atlantans to know the APD plans to keep them safe today,” Moore said.

Just Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill to help law enforcement crack down on illegal street racing, something APD says is all part of the growing problem.

“Going after street racing also helps us take guns off the street, so there are a number of things that we’re doing immediately to address violent crime,” Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.

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