El Paso

Operation GUN SAFE will target those shooting firearms in far east El Paso desert

operation gun safe

Residents living near the Socorro Student Activities Complex might be getting some relief.

Homeowners say they live in fear from people shooting their guns in a nearby desert.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office is now launching an operation that will attempt to curb those firing their weapons in the area.

Sgt. Robert Graziano prepared to head out Wednesday night.

"We have a lot of people out here tonight," Graziano said.

He's made his way to the Socorro Student Activities Complex or the SAC as many call it.

Graziano and other sheriff deputies will be looking for people shooting firearms.

"We need to address that fact that shooting out here is a danger," Graziano said.

As dozens of off-road drivers trek through the hills deputies on ATVs keep close watch.

They're looking out for illegal bonfires, alcohol, drugs and people shooting firearms.

Graziano shows ABC-7 crews the potential dangers.

"What you can see here is somebody set up these bottles and they are shooting their firearms at these targets with no backstop so the rounds have the potential of injuring recreational drivers or further out we have a business. That in the distance and if you look in this direction it's filled with residential homes," Graziano said.

But Graziano told ABC-7 the department face challenges.

They don't have enough deputies or off-road vehicles to monitor the area at all times and then there's the size of the area.

"The size of the area we are covering is a lot larger than it appears when you first enter," Graziano said.

The deputies will now focus on the area with 12 hour shifts to educate people on the dangers of shooting.

"Worst case scenario we can lose someone's life to people recklessly shooting a firearm out here," Graziano said.

Graziano adds the bullet of a firearm can travel as far as a mile and a half and can easily reach residents, businesses and cars on the freeway.

If caught firing towards any of those anyone can be charged with deadly conduct.

Operation GUN SAFE will continue through April.


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