Gang Violence in Alachua County
It sounds like a big city problem, but gangs and the violence they bring are an unfortunate reality for Alachua County. A recent shooting in Southwest Gainesville reminds law enforcement and the community of a growing problem.
Alachua County Sheriff's Office Uniform Patrol Division Sergeant Jayson Levy said, "In our community, we have a gang problem. there's no way around that." A terrifying example was the March 6th Majestic Oaks shooting. Two people were shot when a fight escalated into bullets firing in every direction. The two accused gunman, one of whom is a known gang member, are in custody.
Each day, law enforcement patrols neighborhoods looking for anything that might indicate gang affiliation. Levy said, "If you look here, you can see the word blood, with an apostrophe s, for blood's."
Sergeant Levy says spray paint tagging is a sign of gang activity and can create turf wars between rival gang members. He said, "It could be from the colors they wear, or it could be from different articles of clothing, it could be from as simple as a ball cap."
Law enforcement and their flashing red and blue lights are a big part of preventing violent incidents, like what happened here in Majestic Oaks, but your involvement as a community is also key. Levy said, "We need to work with the community and they're our biggest eyes and ears to help make our partnership work at a hundred percent level."
Keeping an eye on the young people is another important step. Levy said, "A lot of that information comes from our schools, usually our middle schools and our high schools, where we have school resource deputies."
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the Gainesville Police Department have a joint gang unit dedicated this growing issue. Officials say although there aren't gang wars going on here, like in South Florida, gangs are still impacting the county.
GPD/ASO Gang Unit Detective James McCollum said, "We have a lot of gang crime because the gang members are committing those crimes, which makes it a gang related crime." Authorities say whether it's a citizen watch group or a phoned in tip, every resident, along with law enforcement, has a role to play in making our streets safer.
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