GEORGIA GANGS: Seven alleged 'Bloods' indicted, GBI says statewide problem

Thursday, July 18, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

SWAINSBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Seven alleged members of the Bloods were indicted on murder, aggravated assault, and conspiracy charges along with gang violations.

It's an example of a trend across Georgia as the GBI says gangs are the No. 1 issue for each county in the state.

But you can't talk about gangs and crimes without talking about the people it impacts. Emanuel County has seen its fair share of crime,
the small town is no exception to street gangs.

Back in October 2018, officials called the area a "war zone" after multiple people were shot on Lucky Street -- which came after another shooting the day before on Project and Lewis Street. Police called it all gang-related. Among the victims was a grandfather and his granddaughter. It's an illustration of nationwide battle.

"Contrary to what a lot of folks believe, criminal street gang issues aren't limited to urban and suburban areas," GBI Director Vick Reynolds said.

Reynolds held a media day in May to discuss the state's ongoing street gang troubles.

Angela Gillis, an Emanuel County mom, was killed in 2016. On Tuesday, seven were indicted in connection to the murder. One of the seven suspects is still on the run.

Steven Perkins says it's common to hear gunshots on his street every daily.

"It goes down every day," Perkins said.

Every day, at least since 2013, investigators claim the suspects pledged their loyalty to the Bloods.

According to the 32-page indictment, the suspects arranged hits on a witness, threatened and intimidated -- prosecutors even say they're
responsible for it the death of an alleged fellow gang member -- Zavieon Ricks.

The indictment shows Ricks was going to give a statement against the gang after Gillis' death. Investigators believe Gillis' husband was the intended target. The indictment says her husband was testifying against suspected gang member Tony Williams in another case.

"Around the state, regardless of the area, regardless of urban or suburban, rural, the number one issues facing them is street gangs," the GBI director said.

Whether it be some of the big counties in the CSRA, Richmond, Columbia, or Aiken counties, the feds say deputies are describing gangs as unrelenting.

Reynolds said after a statewide survey study, gangs were reported as the number one issue facing law enforcement agencies.

"That's the way I see it," Randy Ellison said. Ellison calls Swainsboro home, and it's been that way all his life. But from where he's watching, his town looks plagued with problems.

"I just pray for them because that's all I know what to do," Ellison said.

The GBI says they're doing even more this year because they say the FBI has found that 45 to 90 percent of crime is committed by street gang members.

"We need to be involved in those cases, and we're going to be more than we have been," Reynolds said.

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