97 Count Indictment Handed To Suspected Gang Members - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Tatumville, Fairgrounds Neighbors React To Gang Charges

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SAVANNAH, GA -

UPDATE:

Nine people have been indicted on gang charges, some also for violent crimes like murder and aggravated assault.  The shootings last year at the Coastal Empire Fairgrounds that allegedly resulted from tensions between the neighboring "Hell Hole" and "Tatumville" gangs drew widespread attention to the city's gang problem.  News 3 spoke with a woman who lives in the Tatumville area.  Shabria Boney isn’t sure the extra time behind bars will make a difference, “My honest opinion? No - because I mean people are gonna be who they are - you know things like this been going on for years - even before I was born you know - so if jail or jail time was gonna somebody change their way I’d say a ratio out of one to ten, i'd say one to two might change.”  Boney moved to Tatumville a few months after the shootings and does say she hasn't heard about any violent crime in the area since she's been there.

Marcuss Young lives just down the street from the Fairgrounds and was a victim of a shooting himself in June of last year.  He says things are getting better, “Mostly I do think it is improving - being that they've collected those people who are in the gangs - supposedly in the gangs and I do think giving them the time behind bars will actually show them you know - the circumstances you know that they've already acquired on themselves.”  Young says he believes things started to improve after the fairgrounds shootings that drew so much attention to the area.  He says he's even hearing about fewer burglaries in his neighborhood.

 

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

During a press conference Thursday, the Chatham County District Attorney's Office announced a 97 count indictment against suspected gang members in Savannah. The investigation centered around so-called 'Hellhole' and 'Tatumville' gang operations.

During the presentation, Metro Police Chief Willie Lovett stated that nine of the suspects were allegedly responsible for shootings on River Street and the Coastal Empire Fair in 2012.

Officials say they have dedicated their most experienced prosecutors to the investigation.

Officials released this statement Thursday:

"The Chatham County District Attorney's Office, in conjunction with the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, announced today the indictment of nine members of a Savannah gang, the arrest of six of those members and an ongoing joint initiative aimed at identifying and prosecuting gang related crimes in Savannah.

The announcement was made in a press conference called by District Attorney Meg Heap with the support of SCMPD Police Chief Willie Lovett in front of the Chatham County Courthouse on Montgomery Street. On Wednesday, September 11, a Chatham County Grand Jury handed down a 97-count indictment for offenses against the nine suspects ranging from murder, to sexual assault to aggravated assault and armed robberies, all of which took place since June 2012. Four were arrested this morning in a coordinated sweep conducted by the District Attorney's Office, various Metro units and canine officers of the Chatham County Sheriff's Office for their involvement in recent gang related violence in Savannah; two were already in custody and warrants have been issued for the arrest of the remaining three. The indictment stem from the shooting death of 19-year-old Tiyates Franklin on River Street in September 2012; the Coastal Empire Fairground shootings in November 2012 that left eight wounded from an exchange of gunfire between gang members; an eastside Savannah shootout in June 2012 between rival gangs HellHole and Tatemville that left two wounded; three armed robberies in November 2012, a December 2012 drug trafficking incident; and several other crimes.

Addressing gang related-violent crimes in Savannah has been on the agendas of various officials recently and concerted efforts between law enforcement entities like this are making great strides in effectively recognizing, arresting, charging and prosecuting offenders who engage in gang-related activities and violence. On the heels of these arrests, District

Attorney Heap announced she is instituting Gang-Related Crimes, a new prosecution focus within her Major Crimes Division. She designated Isabel Pauley and Matt Breedon, two prosecutors currently serving in the Major Crimes Division, as Gang-Related Crime Prosecutors. These two Assistant District Attorneys were instrumental in pulling all of the evidence together and building this case. Both Pauley and Breedon have extensive experience in the realm of gang prosecution. Most recently, Pauley was appointed Special Prosecutor in the F.E.A.R. Domestic Terrorism Group in Long

County, GA and successfully negotiated pleas in this high-profile, death penalty case. Breedon also has considerable and specialized experience in the area of gang and Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations (RICO) prosecutions. It is the intent of the District Attorney's Office to prosecute these crimes using Georgia's Gang Statute 16-15-4. The Gang Statute gives prosecutors the ability to add an additional ‘gang' charge onto every gang related crime charge on an indictment. The gang charge can carry a potential sentence of 5-15 years in prison.

"The District Attorney's Office and the SCMPD are working together to effectively recognize the influence of gang related crimes in Savannah," District Attorney Heap said. " When gang activity is identified in a crime that has been committed, the State can charge these crimes appropriately and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."

Telephone (912) 652-7308

Fax (912) 652-7328

http://DistrictAttorney.chathamcounty.org

Contact: Daniel V. Baxter

Public Information Officer

(o) 912.652.8027

EMail:

dvbaxter@chathamcounty.org

Chatham County Courthouse

133 Montgomery Street

Suite 600

Post Office Box 2309

Savannah, Georgia 31402

DISTRICT ATTORNEY

EASTERN JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF GEORGIA

Meg Heap

Both DA Heap and Chief Lovett praised those who conducted this morning's operation to arrest four of the suspects.

"Gangs in Savannah hold many of our neighborhoods captive and rob many of our children of their youth," said SCMPD

Police Chief Willie Lovett. "The only way to address this is to remove these criminals from our streets and it takes a

coordinated effort such as this to accomplish that goal. It's exciting that we finally have muscle in the gang statue and

even more so that the DA's office is using it. My thanks go out to the District Attorney, her Assistant District Attorneys

who investigated and brought these charges, the Metro detectives who contributed to the investigations, Metro's Patrol,

SWAT, K9 and SARIC officers and the Chatham County Sheriff's Office deputies who took part in and this morning's

arrest sweep. We look forward to continued collaborations to combat this cancerous element of our community."

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