PHOENIX — “It’s been a year of highs and lows,” said Eunice Despaigne.
More than a year later it's still hard for to talk about her daughter's death.
“There’s no way to express this pain,” said Despaigne.
She was driving near 43rd Avenue and Indian School Road back in June of 2021 with her two kids when her daughter, who shared her name, was shot by a man who walked up to their car. Despaigne still remembers the teen’s last words.
“'Mom accelerate, because he has a gun,'” said Despaigne through tears. “I couldn't save my daughter’s life. I couldn't save her.”
Eunice Rodriguez was just 17 years old. The man accused of pulling the trigger, Francisco J. Ortega Sanchez, was arrested and is still in jail facing a long list of charges.
Despaigne said her family will forever wonder why.
“They took away my princess,” said Despaigne. “A bullet took away my princess.”
A year later Phoenix Police announced Operation Gun Crime Crackdown, a streamlined process involving multiple agencies including the ATF and U.S. and County Attorneys.
“It’s definitely been a success, but we are looking for a lot more,” said Sgt. Phil Krynsky with Phoenix Police Department.
The department released new numbers and pictures Wednesday.
They say officers have made more than 500 arrests associated with gun crime, since their push started in July. Sgt. Krynsky said the focus is getting guns out of the hands of people carrying them illegally and those committing multiple crimes.
From July 5 to Augugst 15, 700 guns have also been seized. Phoenix police said more than a dozen of those were guns with a conversion device on them.
Sgt. Krynsky said he has personally seen an uptick in modified guns.
“That is a concern because as you know it turns those firearms into fully automatics every one of those rounds can cost a life,” said Sgt. Krynsky.
We're told for now the firearms seized will be put into evidence.
“700 guns isn't anything compared to what's on the streets,” said Despaigne.
Eunice's mom, still grieving, believes this still isn’t enough.
Police told ABC15 they are ready to evolve as needed.
“As this is working and we are getting people off the street, but if we are noticing other trends we have to adapt,” said Sgt. Krynsky.