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Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Bloodz member shooting by a Crip Gangs are responsible for at least two or three of the four shootings

Gangs are responsible for at least two or three of the four shootings over the weekend. He would not specify which shootings were gang related and whether the murder of 16-year old Torenda Youngblood at his school bus stop Monday was one of them."This violence is senseless and it has got to stop," said Baldwin.
He's rolling out a program called "Operation Ceasefire." It's modeled after a similar program instituted in Boston in 1996 which Baldwin says helped reduce crime by 70% in two years.The program has two components: enforcement and intervention. Police say they will step up enforcement of gangs, pushing for maximum prison time for offenders and their associates.Baldwin says his department has collected a list of 500 known gang members and associates in the city, tied to 12 different street gangs.As part of the intervention part of the program, police officers and community leaders will team up to visit the homes of each known gang member, trying to convince them to change their ways and get out of the gang. The community leaders will then serve as mentors to help those who choose to leave a gang, change their lives.Joe Jennings is one of the community leaders who's volunteered to help. He's a former gang member who says he's been shot 13 times. He's written books about how to get out of a gang and he now devotes much of his time to starting programs to help young people turn their lives around. He thinks the intervention can work.
"We’ve got to go from taking their leader to giving them a leader, from taking hope to giving hope," said Jennings.
According to confidential police documents, Ft. Pierce officers are targeting suspected gang members in their investigation of four recent shootings.The documents were mistakenly released to the press this morning. They provide summaries of field interviews conducted by Ft. Pierce officers Monday.
One reads, "Due to recent shootings....the area was placed on high alert and flooded with officers conducting an overlapping patrol in an effort to deter/cease any further violence. This heightened patrol entailed making contact with persons hanging out on street corners, trespassing on private property, loitering on public property, and gang gatherings."
The documents detail 20 different field interviews, many with people wearing all black or red clothing, known gang colors.One entry references "there was a shooting this morning [Monday] of a Bloodz member by a Crip." Whether that refers to the murder of 16-year old Torenda Youngblood Jr. is unclear.Youngblood was shot and killed while waiting at his school bus stop at the intersection of 22nd St. and Ave. K in Ft. Pierce.There are known street gangs that operate in that area, but the victim's father said he always tried to steer his son away from gangs."The gang colors they wear I don’t let him wear no colors like no black or red. I don’t let him wear that…he wore collared stuff and he was a good kid," said Torenda Youngblood Sr., the victim's father.Police have doubled up their patrol shifts and partnered with U.S. Marshals and Sheriff's Deputies to respond to four recent shootings, including the murder of Youngblood and Demetrius Wells, an 18-year old who was shot and killed Saturday.Assistant Chief Jim Nygaard told reporters Monday it's unclear whether the four shootings are connected. He indicated his officers are looking into the possibility of gang involvement, but had not confirmed it.

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