Lawmakers look to increase penalties for drive-bys

T.J. Steward was killed during a drive by shooting in 2012.

Local lawmakers want to stiffen penalties for drive-by shootings. Family members of victims who have died say the new legislation sends the right message.

Kathryn Owens is all too familiar with drive-bys.

â??Never in a million years,â?? says Owens. â??No one could have ever told me something like that would ever happen,â?? she adds.

Her Whittier Avenue home was riddled with bullets in June 2012.

Her husband was inside.

â??He was shot and never even realized he was shot until afterwards,â?? says Owens.

Also inside, her 12 year old grandson Tamarias Steward.

â??T.J. died of the gunshot injury that had went into his side and pierced his heart and killed him,â?? says Owens who has lived on Whittier Avenue for 45 years.

Owen hopes new legislation will make people think twice before opening fire.

â??It's like a domino effect,â?? says Owens. They (drive-bys) affect more than just one person,â?? she adds.

Uner the new bill, prosecutors wouldn't have to prove the shooter intended to kill the victim to charge the shooter with murder.

â??They should crack down on them. They need to because people need to be held accountable for their actions,â?? says Owens.

Law enforcement is also welcoming the new bill.

â??I think it's great anytime our legislation pushes for stiffer penalties for violent crimes such as drive-bys,â?? says Sgt. Reggie Williams, public information officer for Saginaw Police.

â??It could save some other lives and another grandparent from going through what Iâ??m going through,â?? says Owens.

Senator Ananich says the state Senate will vote on the bill next Wednesday.