Welcome to Australia
Alarm at guns on Melbourne's streets
Mark Buttler, chief police reporter
September 07, 2009 12:00am
THE number of guns on Melbourne streets has alarmed senior police who fear innocent bystanders could be shot dead.
Taskforce Santiago head Det Insp Steve Dennis said young would-be gangsters were arming themselves like never before.
"We're absolutely concerned with the number of handguns. They don't understand the consequences," Det Insp Dennis said.
"Firearms are just so prevalent at the moment. People just seem to be arming themselves and they don't hesitate to use firearms.
Guns in the Wrong Hands!! Crims & Psychos don't obey the law.
"They're indiscriminate with the way they use them. The potential for someone to be hit by a ricochet is quite high."
Taskforce Santiago has confiscated dozens of pistols as it investigates criminal networks operating mostly in the northern and western suburbs.
Investigators have made arrests in 18 of the 19 non-fatal shootings since the taskforce was established last October.
The latest incidents to come under scrutiny from Taskforce Santiago include:
TWO people arrested over the weekend for a kidnapping in which a woman was held at gunpoint for five hours.
A VOLLEY of shots fired at a man in Newport last week.
SHOTS fired into a car containing two men at a McDonald's restaurant in Altona North last month.
MORE shots fired in public in Broadmeadows last month.
A LOADED pistol found at a Roxburgh Park house during a drug search.
Most of those carrying weapons were men aged between 18 and 30.
Det Insp Dennis said incidents such as that at Altona North could easily have ended in tragedy for combatants or innocent bystanders.
Taskforce Santiago was set up after months of bloodshed.
Many wounded victims were dumped by their attackers at the Northern Hospital.
Much of the taskforce's work originally revolved around one northern suburbs family and their associates, but Det Insp Dennis said this had spread to cover a range of loose criminal networks operating in the northern and western suburbs.
"The focus now is on organised crime," he said.