Lakeland police crack down on gang activity - FOX 13 News

Lakeland police crack down on gang activity

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LAKELAND (FOX 13) -

Lakeland Police are making gang activity a top priority following the death of an 18-year-old boy, found shot in the back of the head February 22nd.

Devontae moved into the neighborhood near 10th Street and Atline just two months ago. Already he wants outs.

"Fighting, shooting, drugs, violence, breaking into houses," Devontae said. "It's just ratchet."

It was the final straw when Demarco Powell was found murdered and Tyler Knight and another teen were arrested for what police are calling a gang related shooting.

It's the 9th gang related shooting, though not all fatal, since last summer.

"I think they're fighting over streets, territory, basically, I live here, you live here so I don't like you," said Kathleen High School student Asia Davis.

Lakeland Police say there are nine active gangs they watch very closely. There are another 40 or so that cause trouble, die out, then form again.

That makes it harder for police to track members partially because their allegiances change so quickly.

"They could be in a gang today, and two weeks from now they're in a different gang so it's not the gangs of the past where they're showing their colors," said Sgt. Gary Gross.

Police say gangs now show their bravado on social media. Photos on Powell's Facebook page show him showing off a gun and what appear to be drugs.

"The community has been working with us, various facets of the community to try and deal with this issue of gangs," said Capt. Greg Policastro.

Lakeland is asking for volunteers to join its new anti-gang task force. Police say the best thing parents can do is see what your kids are getting into and who they are chatting with on Facebook and other social media.

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