February 20, 2007
AIKEN, S.C.---Police say a nasty brawl that broke out in a McDonald's parking lot in Aiken was "gang-related".
It happened at the McDonald's on York Street.
Police say they've been watching for awhile and there have been multiple incidents in recent months that point to gang activity, but they want the community to rest assured they are tackling the problem.
Pam Powers, owner of the McDonald's where the fight occurred, wants her customers to feel safe.
"This is a safe McDonald's and this is an isolated event, and I hope they will continue to patronize this restaurant," Pam said.
The restaurant is usually quiet, but on Saturday night it was the scene of a group brawl. Four men have been arrested relating to the incident. But police say it was no ordinary fight--they say it was a "gang showdown".
"They claimed gang affiliation," said Lt. David Turno with Aiken Public Safety. "They were either wearing the colors or flying the colors, the red bandana, signifying the Blood members."
The confrontation started in part of the parking lot in front of the restaurant door and then moved to the back of the drive thru. The scuffle continued, and that's when the manager on duty decided he needed to call 911.
"They stated that they were there to fight another gang, which would be the Crips," Lt. Turno said.
Lt. Turno says the men arrested are "holding out" and have refused to file charges against the "other side" involved in the fight, something that the department is concerned about because more gang violence may come.
"They don't want our involvement to prosecute the case," Lt. Turno said. "They don't want to press charges. They prefer to handle it among themselves, which concerns us, because it's a cycle of violence."
The department has watched gang activity for a while now, including watching gangs in schools.
Lt. Turno says cops aren't going to tolerate gangs in Aiken.
"We're going to target these people aggressively and try and enforce the law and put them in jail when need be."
Police say that the level of gang violence hasn't escalated to any drive-bys or serious injuries, but unless they stop it now, it could get out of hand.
Richmond County recently set up a Gang Task Force with the FBI to help solve the problem in Augusta.