News 12 at 6 o'clock/ Friday, July 26th, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Eight teenagers were behind bars Friday night on charges related to gang activity.
Two are still waiting for their first court appearance. Two others went in front of a judge Friday and four were in court Wednesday. So far, all have been denied bond.
The charges stem from an incident in a south Augusta neighborhood, all caught on security cameras, and the Richmond County Sheriff says this is all part of a bigger gang problem.
"You are both charged with unlawful street gang activity and reckless conduct," said Judge Stephen Shepard.
With chains around their ankles, 17-year-old Dijon Abbott and 19-year-old Jerome Smith listened as the charges were read against them.
"Unlawful street gang activity is a felony, and reckless conduct is a misdemeanor," Shepard said.
Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree says it's just one example of gang activity.
"When you look at the potential of it, it could've been horrific," Roundtree said. "It could've been a very, very bad situation."
Those aren't the only charges for Abbott. He's also facing a murder charge for the death of Marquez Eubanks.
"We have a 19-year-old who was murdered and a 17-year-old who's charged with his murder and that's just crazy to me," Roundtree said.
The Sheriff's Office says both incidents were disputes between two rival gangs.
"People think of the Chicago and the L.A. gangs like the Crips and the Bloods and the Gangster Disciples," Roundtree said. "People get caught up in the names, and I tell people all the time, I don't care if a group calls themselves the Mickey Mouse Boys -- if they're arming their selves, if they're shooting people, if they're breaking into your homes, if they're robbing people -- they're a gang."
Sheriff Roundtree says gang activity is more common than you think.
"I worked here for 17 years," he said. "I worked homicide for 10. I know there's a gang problem here and we need to address it."
So that's why he's working on a gang task force for the Sheriff's Office.
"That's what our new intelligence unit is trying to do is track those individuals, trying to see their affiliations, come up with profiles so we know about these individuals before crime happens," Roundtree said.
They're already seeing results.
"That's why we were able to bring the 17-year-old into custody so quickly," Roundtree said.
A 17-year-old who's now facing a life behind bars.
News 12 has also learned two of that teen's alleged partners in crime are also facing even more charges. Deputies say they were involved in a drive-by shooting at a rival gang member's house Saturday night.
Roundtree says he's seen children as young as 8 years old being exposed to gang activity, but right now, the average recruiting age is between 11 and 13 years old.