Police: Over 300 active gangs in Indianapolis
Jeremy Brilliant/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - Police believe there are more than 300 active gangs in Indianapolis. The issue comes to light following the arrest of a teen accused of shooting nine people Saturday night. Police say the shooting was gang-related.
The graffiti isn't hard to find. Some of it is just simple vandalism but other markings are evidence of gang activity.
"It took me down the wrong path. I got shot at a couple of times," said Shane Evans, a former gang member.
Evans joined a gang when he was just 13 years old.
"It was PUB. It was Post Up Boys, stands for Post Up Boys. We'd throw a lot of parties, go around fighting," he said.
Metro Police say it was gang activity that led to the shootings of at least nine of the teens injured Saturday night. Suspect Shamus Patton, 17, is reportedly a member of the 34th Street Savage Boys.
"I think that the recent events have caused people to take more notice of what's going on around them," said Lt. Michael O'Connor, Marion County sheriff's Department Gang Intelligence Unit.
Lt. O'Connor heads up the Marion County Sheriff's Department Gang Intelligence Unit. He says the public needs to help police.
"What they see and what they hear, what their kids see and hear and what they report to the police is an invaluable source of information," said Lt. O'Connor.
Every time someone is booked at the Marion County Jail, they're asked about their gang affiliation. Through that questioning, sheriff's department officials have come up with a list of some 315 active gangs in the City of Indianapolis. They estimate the total membership at more than 2,000.
During a taping of Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's radio show, police addressed the gang issue head-on.
"We're not going to tolerate it. We're coming after you hard. You have one of two choices: change or be locked up," said Dep. Chief William Benjamin, Metro Police.
Shane Evans decided to change. Now 17, he says gangs are a thing of past for him. He has advice for anyone currently involved.
"You can be anything you want to be. Instead of being on the streets doing violence, you can be a doctor or lawyer. Do something with your life," he said.
Police say there are no known affiliates of major national gangs in Indianapolis but rather loosely affiliated cliques and neighborhood groups with little member loyalty.
The Marion County Prosecutor's office currently has 50 gang cases pending and expects that number to rise with the anticipated crackdown by IMPD.