Tallahassee Gangs

By Julie Montanaro
February 28, 7:30 p.m.

Six teens arrested in a shooting this week turn out to be documented gang members and Tallahassee Police say they've got plenty of company in the streets.

The words, "Northside" and "The Goon Squad" are scrawled on brick walls and sidewalks, not so subtle signs that this housing complex on Basin Street is marked territory.

"Since the inception of the gang unit, we've been able to identify approximately 140 active gang members in the city limits of Tallahassee in the range of 12 to 20, 21 years old," says Tallahassee Police Officer Ray Garcia.

The Tallahassee Police Gang Unit heads out to gang hot spots every day, trying to keep tabs on known members and run interference on trouble brewing among three distinct gangs, northside, southside and westside.

"Once they claim a side of town, then they pretty much become enemies," Garcia said.

Police say shots fired this week were the result of a fight between rival gang members from the north and west sides. TPD says there have been 14 gang related shootings in the city limits in the past 18 months and guns in the hands of boys as young as 12 are a growing concern.

"We have been able to link firearms to these groups. It doesn't mean they're always going to be armed, but it is a concern of ours," says Captain Chris Connell.

These officers say most gang members are between 14 and 18 years old and luckily brass knuckles and baseball bats still outnumber guns in their confrontations here.

There are a series of town hall meetings coming up this spring in hopes of getting everyone involved in trying to steer kids clear of gang life in Tallahassee.