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  • Sat, April 25, 2015 11:07 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

     

    Gates, N.Y. - A chaotic scene erupted after one person was killed and at least six more were injured after a shooting early Saturday morning at a bar in the town of Gates.

    According to police, the shooting happened around 1 a.m. inside the Gates Pub on Hinchey Road near Chili Avenue after an argument inside the pub escalated.

    Officers on scene say six to seven people have been taken to local hospitals. The injuries of the victims range from minor to serious injuries, according to Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode.

    One 37-year-old man was found dead at the scene. Six others were shot, some multiple times.

    Police say at least one shooter was involved, but have not ruled out the possibility of multiple shooters.

    Multiple people are being questioned in connection with the shooting, including at least one person of interest.

    No word yet on what the motive may have been behind the shooting.

    Police have not yet released the identities of any victims, injured or deceased.

    Gates Police Department is investigating the incident with help from Rochester, Ogden and Greece Police Departments, as well as the Monroe County Sheriff's Off

    13WHAM News will continue to update you on this story as it develops and will bring you any information as it becomes available on 13WHAM News, on our mobile apps and here on 13wham.com.

  • Sat, April 25, 2015 11:04 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

    Rochester, N.Y. - A jury was seated late Friday in the trial of the man accused of shooting Rochester Police Officer Daryl Pierson. Twelve jurors and six alternates were selected after 375 people were screened over 3 days.

    "We've been very thorough in our questioning of the potential jurors and I'm confident we produced a jury and alternates that will be fair and impartial," said District Attorney Sandra Doorley.

    Thomas Johnson III is accused of intentionally shooting officer Pierson during a foot chase September 3, 2014. He's also accused of the attempted murder of another police officer and shooting a civilian caught in the crossfire.

    Thousands of people in Rochester attended Pierson's funeral and there has been extensive publicity in that case. Defense attorneys sought a change in venue fearing they could not get a fair trial here.

    That opinion appears to change after jury selection this week.

    "We've selected 12 jurors and six alternates and no one is someone on the jury that Thomas Johnson would not approve of,” said Defense Attorney James Hinman.

    It's been almost 8 months since the community mourned the death of Officer Pearson. Beginning Monday the community will learn in great detail what happened on Hudson Avenue the night of September 3.

    Both the prosecution and defense will lay out their cases in opening statements. Prosecutors will be the first to present witnesses and some of the first people the community will hear from are Rochester police officers who were there the night officer Pierson was killed.

    "The biggest challenge will be dealing with the emotion," said Doorley. "I'm sure it will be emotional for the witnesses who testified as well as Amy Pierson, her family and Rochester Police. But we'll get through it."

    It is unclear whether the defense will call any witnesses, though under the law they are not required to do so.

    "I do not expect Mr. Johnson to be acquitted," said Hinman. "I do not intend to argue Mr. Johnson is not responsible for officer Pierson's death. The issue is what is the level of responsibility."

    In order to get the strongest sentence of life without parole, jurors must find intent. Jurors must believe Johnson intentionally shot Officer Daryl Pierson.

    The trial will unfold 4 days a week for the next 3-4 weeks. The duration of the trial led to the decision to seek 6 alternates when the usual number is 2.

    Alternate jurors sit alongside the regular jury and step in if someone is dismissed for any reason. 

    "If someone becomes ill or has a family emergency and we lose one of the 12 we would have to start all over. Nobody wants that," said Hinman.

    In the 1991 trial of serial killer Arthur Shawcross, 4 alternate jurors were selected. The trial lasted 12 weeks and none of the alternates were pressed into service.

    However, Chuck Siragusa, who prosecuted in that case and hundreds of others said alternate jurors are used more often than most people think. He estimated alternates stepped in about one quarter of the cases he has tried.

  • Wed, April 22, 2015 11:03 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

    THE BRONX—Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday he was unaware of the problems plaguing a Harlem anti-violence site that uses ex-gang members to stop shootings but that he stood behind the model the city has chosen to address stubborn gun violence in the city's toughest neighborhoods.

    Harlem SNUG is one of 14 sites that the mayor and the City Council dedicated $13 million to last year as part of de Blasio's Gun Crisis Violence Management system. The system was based on the Cure Violence model, created by criminologist David Kennedy and based on the idea that gun violence could be treated like a disease.

    "I’d say the broad concept is getting intervention I believe in very fundamentally," de Blasio said at an event in The Bronx. "I’m a big fan of David Kennedy and the concept he created about how you stop gang violence before it proliferates; how you involve community members, family members, clergy in that effort."

    But the central Harlem site, run by the Mission Society, is under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney's office following the shooting of a former employee.

    There were also allegations that active gang members were still involved in the program and possibly dealing drugs and recruiting new gang members.

    On Monday, DNAinfo New York reported that the supervisor of one of the expansion sites in The Bronx had been arrested for domestic violence for brutally beating and threatening to kill his former girlfriend, a fellow employee.

    DNAinfo is withholding the name of the defendant in the domestic violence case to protect the identity of the victim. The defendant is facing charges of assault and harassment and has been released without bail.

    The victim claims that Mission Society was aware of the abuse and did nothing.

    In fact, she says Mission made her work in the same building as her abuser despite having a restraining order against him, charges the Mission Society has denied.

    The victim says her abuser was promoted to supervisor of one of the expansion sites under de Blasio's program even after her beating.

    Mission Society is investigating the allegations against the supervisor accused of domestic violence, an ex-gang member who is still employed with the non-profit.

    The victim was fired by Mission Society, along with several other employees who said they were in fear of their lives because of alleged threats made against Harlem SNUG following the shooting of the former employee.

    The Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice has said it is involved to make sure the Department of Health and the Mission Society are following proper hiring and employee management protocols.

    Elsie McCabe Thompson, former head of the Museum for African Art and wife of former comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, has head the Mission Society for the last year.

    The trouble with the program comes as the city is experiencing an increase in shootings, including a bloody weekend where three people were killed and 23 wounded in 21 shooting incidents, The Daily News reported.

    De Blasio said the model works.

    "We certainly have had some real success with former gang members getting their life together and then being agents of peace," said the mayor.

     
  • Tue, April 21, 2015 11:02 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

     

    GREAT mountain climb.jpg

    Kids climb a wall at the G.R.E.A.T. Summer Youth Academy which is meant to teach kids how to cope with pressure to join gangs through team and confidence building exercises, police said. (Provided by Syracuse Police Department)

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Children with a high risk of joining gangs can attend a summer program sponsored by Syracuse police to help keep them out of trouble.

    The G.R.E.A.T. Summer Youth Academy is meant to teach kids how to cope with pressure to join gangs through team and confidence building exercises, said Lt. Geno Turo.

    The year-long program, Gang Resistance Education and Training, is a national initiative that teaches kids how and why they should stay out of gangs. Three officers, who are also certified teachers, run the Syracuse-based program.

    GREAT obstacle course.jpg

    Kids try out an elevated obstacle course at the G.R.E.A.T. Summer Youth Academy, which is meant to teach kids how to cope with pressure to join gangs through team and confidence building exercises, police said. Provided by Syracuse Police Department 

    Turo said one major team and confidence building exercise they do at the summer sessions is an obstacle course that requires kids to complete individual tasks to help their team finish the course. The course starts on the ground before rising to a height of 30 feet, where kids try to do it again while wearing safety harnesses.

    Turo said other activities include role playing games, field trips and lectures.

    "This is our only line of offense (against gangs)," Turo said.

    The summer academy is also meant to create a relationship with police officers and young people who might come from a community where mutual respect between the two does not exist.

    "Their environment tells them police are evil," Turo said, adding that reports of officer shootings, such as the one in which a black man was shot and killed while running away from police in South Carolina, do nothing to help ease tensions between the groups.

    "That's not who we really are. That's an exceptional disgrace to our field," Turo said.

    He admits that not everyone can be saved from turning toward a life of crime or drugs, but he steadfastly says the prevention programs work.

    He said students tell officers from one year to the next that they've used skills they learned at the summer academy or through G.R.E.A.T. to stay out of gangs.

    "Those are the little success stories," Turo said.

    Applications for the summer academy can be found at the Syracuse Police Department website.

  • Mon, April 13, 2015 2:50 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A Latin Kings gang leader in New Jersey has been convicted again for his involvement in the 2004 killing of a female gang member who witnessed an abduction.

    Latin Kings leader Jose "Boom Bat" Negrete was found guilty of murder and conspiracy in the death of 23-year-old Jeri Lynn Dotson. He was also convicted of attempted murder for his role in the abduction and beating of a rival gang member.

    Negrete was also convicted in 2009, but his 80-year prison sentence was overturned by an appellate court because of jury misconduct.

    Negrete's attorney, Jack Furlong, says he will file a motion for a new trial. He says he was deprived of his right to confront some of the fellow gang members who testified against him.

  • Mon, April 13, 2015 2:49 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    Fifteen alleged gang members were charged with everything from attempted murder to conspiracy after the clan allegedly plotted vicious crimes via social media, prosecutors said Wednesday.

    The Lyman Bosses, a violent Bronx based gang, was being probed by the District Attorney’s office and the NYPD as they monitored their Facebook interactions where the thugs often posted about targeting rival gangs, sources said.

    The youngest of those arrested was 17-year-old Fabian Johnson who was charged with conspiracy, robbery and assault, according to an official press release from the District Attorney’s office.

    Daquan Carrasco,18, also known as Day Day Lyman, was slapped with charges of attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a firearm, and criminal possession of a weapon, records show.

    Ten of the 15 gang members face conspiracy charges.

    Seven of the thugs were already in police custody for prior offenses, including a March 1 robbery, where the violent teens assaulted a food delivery man and swiped his cell phone and cash, sources said.

    The remaining eight men were rounded up during a raid conducted by the NYPD’s 42nd Precinct early Wednesday morning.

    Some of gang affiliates have whacky nicknames like ‘Sal Capone’ and ‘Mal Pacino.’

    “This investigation is an example of law enforcement addressing the violence caused by street crews such as the Lyman Gang whose reckless actions affect the quality of life of the residents where they operate,” said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton.

    “I want to thank the members of the 42nd Precinct and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for bringing these alleged crew members to justice,” he added.

    Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said, ” “This kind of violence is senseless, and it is our office’s goal, along with that of the NYPD, to make sure that guns are taken off the streets, and those wrongdoers who would use guns or other means to threaten the safety of law abiding citizens, are targeted by our investigations.”

  • Tue, April 07, 2015 11:22 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

    NEW YORK (AP) — A reputed street gang leader has been sentenced to life in prison following a New York City trial that featured his amateur rap videos.

    A judge Thursday announced the sentencing of 33-year-old Ronald Herron, who was found guilty in a Brooklyn federal court last year of multiple counts of murder, racketeering and drug trafficking.

    Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis sentenced Herron to 12 life terms plus 105 years, saying the amateur rapper has “shown a complete lack of remorse for (his) abhorrent conduct,” The New York Times reports.

    Herron seemed defiant in the wake of his sentencing, saying the court created “an atmosphere of guilt.”

    “You can sentence me to 10 life sentences,” he told the court, according to the New York Post. “But I am only going to die one time. God have mercy on all of us. 

    During the trial, prosecutors showed jurors videos of Herron rhyming about carrying guns and spilling the blood of rivals. The government argued the recordings were proof of his status as the violent leader of a Bloods faction called the Murderous Mad Dogs.

    Before trial, the defense had unsuccessfully argued that the videos should be off-limits because they’re free speech. Herron testified that his lyrics were “exaggeration” and “hyberbole.”

  • Fri, April 03, 2015 11:21 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

     Kathy Buettner, the spokeswoman for Cure Violence, responded to the story Friday and wrote: "The issues about the management of a site are handled at the local level, not at the Cure Violence national level."

    New York City Mission Society, the organization that runs Harlem SNUG, said staffing changes were recently made but did not say whether allegations of gang activity were the cause.

    Jeff Simmons, a spokesman for the Mission Society, did not provide more details.

    Original Story

    Shawanna Vaughn thought she had landed her dream job in November, joining New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $12.7 million plan to curtail the bloodshed produced by the city’s deadly mix of street beefs and guns.

    The 36-year-old mother of two went to work as a violence interrupter for Harlem SNUG (that’s guns spelled backwards), part of a nationwide program called Cure Violence that treats urban crime as a contagious disease. Vaughn earned a $32,000 salary interviewing victims of stabbings and shootings as they recovered in Harlem Hospital. She would offer to help mediate between victims and attackers, to defuse tensions. She always promised to keep their stories secret from the police.

    Now Vaughn has become, depending on who is telling the story, a whistleblower or a snitch. In late February, Vaughn told a program director with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice that Harlem SNUG employs active members of the Bloods gang and a subsidiary group called Shine Love, a street crew based out of a nearby public housing development. In an interview with The Marshall Project, Vaughn said neighborhood drug dealers used the SNUG office bathroom to deal narcotics. On one occasion, she said, a former SNUG employee showed up at the office with three armed men who pulled out their guns on a co-worker. On March 12 she was fired, and took her story to the New York Police Department.

    “People’s public safety is at risk,” Vaughn said. “You have to tell the truth.”

    Cure Violence declined to respond to questions about Vaughn’s charges or to say why she was fired. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has a prosecutor looking into her allegations. Sarah Solon, a spokeswoman for Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, confirmed city officials are also investigating.

    “The City takes these allegations seriously,” Solon wrote in a statement. “We do not want to lose sight of the important role that credible messengers and targeted programming can play in preventing violence, however it must be done in a manner that promotes safety.”

    Safety has been a recurring issue for Harlem SNUG’s parent organization, Cure Violence, which uses former gang members to mediate simmering street conflicts between warring teenagers and young adults who are beyond the influence of local police.

    Cure Violence was started under the rubric CeaseFire in Chicago in 1995 by Gary Slutkin, an epidemiologist who theorized that gang violence could be treated like an epidemic. (Slutkin had worked with the World Health Organization combating AIDS in Uganda.) Unlike an anti-gang model popularized in Boston during the late 1990s, in which ex-offenders and police officers worked together to curtail violence, Slutkin’s approach leans more heavily on members of the street culture.

    “We hire the people who already know everybody around from the same neighborhoods, and they're very much trusted,” said Slutkin in a recent NPR interview. “There's a way to reverse epidemics. And in order to interrupt the transmission, you need to detect and find first cases.”

    Cure Violence, based out of the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Public Health, employs an estimated 350 outreach workers in 23 cities across the country and has a reputation as an effective anti-violence program. It has received more than $14 million from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a version of the program launched in Baltimore, called Safe Streets, has won multiple grants from the U.S. Department of Justice. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for The Prevention of Youth Violence reported in a January 2012 study that the Baltimore program had mediated 276 disputes and prevented at least five homicides and 35 nonfatal shootings within a three year span. The program was the subject of an acclaimed documentary, “The Interrupters,” that followed CeaseFire street workers around tough Chicago neighborhoods over the course of a year.

    But the Baltimore Health Department closed the Safe Streets office in December 2013 after police arrested an outreach worker for carrying a handgun. That announcement came a few weeks after the U.S. Marshals arrested one of the program’s most famous employees, Nathan "Bodie" Barksdale, who was an inspiration for the drug lord character Avon Barksdale on the HBO series “The Wire”. The Drug Enforcement Agency accused Barksdale of being a heroin dealer for the Black Guerilla Mafia.

    Chicago cut funding for the program in that city (still called CeaseFire) after police grew suspicious that employees, many of whom were former felons, had returned to a criminal lifestyle, and after Tio Hardiman, the organization’s Illinois director was arrested for punching his wife (the charges were later dropped). Hardiman sounds disenchanted with the organization’s approach.

    “You have to have a mix. You can’t just have former gang members working. You gotta have people who haven’t broken the law,” Hardiman told The Marshall Project.

    Cure Violence spokeswoman Kathy Buettner declined to comment on the problems in specific cities and defended the program’s continued mission of sending ex-offenders into rough neighborhoods to stem shootings.

    “We are training and retraining all the time,” Buettner said.

    The issues in Chicago and in Baltimore didn’t impede officials in New York from expanding Cure Violence across the state under Operation SNUG. The state Division of Criminal Justice Services oversees ten SNUG offices and the city Department of Health and City Council funds sites in 14 police precincts.

    Jeffrey Butts, a director of research at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, co-wrote an ongoing analysis of Cure Violence’s presence in high-crime New York City neighborhoods and found that homicide rates are on a downward trend in three areas that employed the interrupters in Brooklyn and in northern Manhattan.

    “They can form relationships in high-violence communities that police, social workers and ministers simply can’t,” Butts said.

    Vaughn, whose allegations have cast a shadow over the New York program, understands both sides of the law. The daughter of a 20-year veteran of the Bakersfield Police Department, she said she served four years in a California prison for robbing a Bank of America branch. Her brother was murdered in Bakersfield when he was 24.

    The NYPD has since moved Vaughn and her two children out of her old apartment and into a safe house while police continue to investigate whether her former co-workers have connections to the Bloods. She is angry that her complaints were initially ignored, and fearful for her family’s safety.

    “Cure Violence has made me start my whole life over,” Vaughn said. “I am so disgusted.”

  • Fri, April 03, 2015 11:17 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

    Seven reputed members and associates of a notorious South Queens street gang last week were indicted on conspiracy, weapons and other charges for the attempted murder, shooting and assault of two men believed to be associated with a rival gang on the same day in January, 2013, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

    Jerald Lowe, Jeffrey Bien-Aime, Rasheed Watson, Jonathan Jean-Pierre, Anthony Biggs, Kenneth Stokes and Dayjah Knowles—all allegedly either members or associates of the Everybody Killas gang—were arraigned on charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, first- and second-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and second- and fourth-degree conspiracy. Bien-Aime and Watson are presently being sought.

    According to the charges in the indictment, the defendants conspired and acted in concert with each other between Nov. 1, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013, to shoot two individuals whom they believed to be associated with the SNOW gang. At approximately 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2013, a group of EBK gang members—including Lowe, Bien-Aime, Watson, Jean-Pierre, Knowles and Stokes—allegedly confronted members of the SNOW gang in the vicinity of Jamaica Avenue and Parsons Boulevard.  After an exchange of words, one of the defendants allegedly shot a suspected SNOW gang member in the right foot.

    Additionally, at approximately 9:30 p.m. on that same day, Anthony Biggs, Kenneth Stokes and two other EBK gang members saw another suspected SNOW gang member at a bodega on Merrick Boulevard.  One of the EBK gang members then allegedly entered the store and, pulling out a .380 pistol, fired one shot at the SNOW gang member, hitting him in the left mid-section.  The victim fell to the floor and the shooter allegedly attempted to shoot him again, but the shell casing jammed inside the gun.

    All of the indicted, except Stokes, face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Stakes is facing up to 50 years.

  • Thu, April 02, 2015 11:11 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

     Ronald Herron was sentenced Thursday to 12 terms of life in prison plus 105 years. The leader of the Bloods street gang, he was convicted in June 2014 on charges of racketeering, murder in aid of racketeering, narcotics trafficking, robbery and firearms offenses. Herron's division of the Bloods was active throughout New York City, primarily in the Gowanus and Wyckoff Gardens areas of Brooklyn.

    "For years, Ronald Herron unleashed brutal, unrelenting violence on his community while glorifying his criminal lifestyle as a crack-dealing gangster. Today's sentence put an end to all of that, for good," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

    “Herron styled himself a rap artist, but the evidence proved that he was a murderous thug who sought power through violence, fear, and intimidation," she continued. "Let today's sentence send a message to other gang members who terrorize their own communities: We and our federal and city law enforcement partners will not tolerate such heinous criminal conduct."

    In his music, Herron claimed to be a leader of the "Murderous Mad Dogs," a division of the Bloods. He also boasted online about "beating a body," a reference to beating a murder rap. His street name was "Ra Diggs." 

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