November 7, 2005
Crime and violence where you live, due in part to gang activity in Augusta. But the traditional gang isn’t necessarily what you’ll find here. News 12 is on your side with how police are cracking down on gang-related crimes in your area.
Follow Deputy Brantley for an hour and you’ll see what he sees thirteen days a month.
“Hey! Ya’ll need to find some place to go, alright?” Brantley said. “I don’t know if they call themselves a gang but they pretty much stick together.”
He calls Cherry Tree Crossing a ‘busy area,’ and by busy he means lots of complaints stem from here including juveniles smoking, drinking and gambling. His last call was about a teenager who reportedly had a pistol.
“Well she called and by the time we got there he was gone. So, we never recovered the weapon,” Brantley said.
It’s calls like these that have some worried about gang activity, asking just how safe are our streets?
Last month, Rodnick Patterson was shot and killed at a high school dance. Police suspect it was gang related. And another murder, in an area called the cut, where seven gunshot wounds were found on Dontavious Wyman. Wyman had friends at Cherry Tree. They called him Tape.
“This is how they remember,” said Deputy Brantley, talking about graffiti.
“Is gangs a major problem? It is becoming a known problem,” said Investigator Tess Alexander-Brunson.
Investigator Tess Alexander-Brunson is Richmond County’s only full-time gang coordinator. Her filing cabinet is filled with folders. In them is what she calls interview cards. They look like these, with the names, addresses and phone numbers of confirmed gang members.
“First we have to gain knowledge of what we’re dealing with and that’s what we are in the process of doing because that’s the only way we’re going to be able to combat gang activity,” Alexander-Brunson said.
What she does know however, she’s hesitant to share, not wanting to give gang members the attention they seek. But you might be surprised just how easy it is to find information on the so-called Barton Village gang O-Dubs, or OWTT, which stands for “Only With True Thugs.” 22-year-old Serena advertises it on a website. And on another, we learn the meaning behind their sign.
Other active neighborhoods include Dogwood and Meadowbrook, both areas deputies say they aggressively patrol. So much in fact that residents have learned their names and even their hours.
This gentleman recognizes Brantley and rats out a neighbor he says had drugs.
“He said, there go Goodman, he go and got rock with him,” said one Cherry Creek resident.
Deputies are also quick to learn who lives where and with whom. Brantley doesn’t recognize this man, turns out he’s visiting from Tennessee.
“We ask the questions alright? You don’t live here…for one, you don’t live here, ok?” Brantley said.
As the sheriff’s eyes and ears, deputies have proven the most effective tool in the streets, gathering intelligence for Alexander-Brunson to later reflect on in gang-related cases.
But narrow streets and dim lighting make it hard for Brantley to catch everything. And he admits, he often arrives too late.
“They can hang in here, they can see us coming. You know, we ride up in our patrol cars so it’s an easy getaway for them,” Brantley said.
But perhaps one day officials will be able to say that’s not as easy at it once was.