State police identify 4 county youth gangs Teen-ager accused of weapons assault allegedly is a member

June 05, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A 14-year-old boy from Liberty High School who was charged last week with pointing a weapon at another boy was in a gang, authorities said yesterday, one of four that they have identified in Carroll County.

"We're not talking about 'Bloods' and 'Crips' L.A.-style gangs," said Edward J. Puls Jr., an assistant state's attorney. "We're looking at about four different groups of kids who think of themselves as gang members. I won't even glorify them by telling you the names of the gangs, but police know where they are and who belongs to them."

Two gangs are in the South Carroll area, one is in Westminster and one is in Manchester, Puls said.

On Tuesday, police arrested a 15-year-old Eldersburg boy, a friend of the 14-year-old. Both are members of a gang, said Puls.

He said police became aware of the gangs while investigating various crimes, such as petty theft or destruction of property.

"Sometimes the crimes -- auto theft, for example -- are more serious," he said.

Occasionally, a fight erupts between rival gang members, but mostly they are "just kids seeking their own identity by joining together to hang out," Puls said. "They are easily identified by the clothes they wear, the type, style or color, or by a certain tattoo they all have."

In response to the arrests, Carroll prosecutors will soon ask state delegates to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for minors younger than 16 to possess a firearm without direct parental supervision.

That decision followed Wednesday's arrest of the 14-year-old boy's father, a 47-year-old Sykesville man, who is accused of leaving his son home for days at a time with unsupervised access to weapons, ammunition and explosives.

L The father is not being named to protect the son's identity.

The boy, a ninth-grader, was charged as a juvenile last week after he was accused of pointing a weapon in his home at another juvenile.

State police became aware of that alleged incident May 22 and, upon learning of allegations of weapons and explosives, arrested the boy in a remote area as he traveled to school May 26.

After obtaining a search warrant that day for the 14-year-old's home, state police reported finding in his bedroom a loaded shotgun, more than 200 rounds of ammunition and a jar filled with gunpowder extracted from 12-gauge shotgun shells.

The 14-year-old was turned over to juvenile authorities and is being held at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County, said Puls. The 15-year-old was released to his parents.

Puls would not discuss specifics of the case, but said investigators from juvenile services will return to Juvenile Court in about a month and make a recommendation.

The boys' arrests, coupled with the father's arrest, created fear and concern in the community, Puls said.

At no time was anyone -- student or faculty member -- in danger at Liberty High School, he said, but state police acted to ensure matters did not escalate. Extra troopers were called in to help speed the investigation, and parents, residents and other students were interviewed.

With so many aware of the investigation, rumors began to spread, creating more public concern.

"I can say that investigators believe all the accessible weapons were accounted for," Puls said.

Troopers looked for forts, or loosely constructed places in remote areas, away from parental supervision that might have contained caches of weapons or ammunition, Puls said. "The investigation is continuing, but police believe no such caches exist," he said.

State police, the state's attorney's office and school officials will meet soon to map strategy to get the message to parents that their child has been identified as a member of a gang, or hangs around with gang members.

If parents know, the hope is that they will do something about it, Puls said.

In the case of the 14-year-old, the father was arrested on two counts of allowing firearm access to a minor under age 16, two counts of allowing access to ammunition to a minor under age 16 and one count of child neglect.

Puls said police photographs of the Sykesville home showed the 14-year-old was left to live in "deplorable conditions."

In charging documents, Trooper Alfred Eways said that "hundred of items of dirty clothing were scattered on the floor, as was trash, pornography and other items."

The trooper reported that an overwhelming odor of mildew and urine permeated the house, especially near the teen-ager's bedroom.

Eways also said that the boy was left unsupervised at home without food for up to four days.

The weapons and ammunition charges against the father are misdemeanors and punishable by maximum fines of $1,000. Child neglect carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Pub Date: 6/05/98

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