NYPD: Gangs responsible for spike in shootings
Inside what looks like an ordinary storefront is the headquarters for a youth group. Community leaders are hoping it will help stop the rise in gang youth crime.
The NYPD has set its sights on dismantling the gangs police say are largely responsible for the shootings and murders in the city.
"This is a violent, violent bunch of guys -- they're all G Stone Crips," said Deputy Chief Kevin Catalina of the NYPD Gang Unit. "We took down associates of theirs a couple of weeks back. During that takedown, we pulled 11 guns off these guys."
While overall crime is down almost seven percent, shootings are up 7.1 percent so far this year. Murders are up 15.3 percent. Even with the increase, it's a much lower number than the 1980s and 1990s.
"For those of us who were here in the bad old days, when we had 2,000 or more murders a year, a lot or ordinary citizens were getting caught in those crossfires, it was a horrible, horrible time," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
But Dr. Darrin Porcher, a former NYPD lieutenant, said there is cause for concern.
"Whenever there is violence in the community, it always creates a hazard for the common citizen," Porcher said. "So when we think in terms of this violence, bullets have no names. They land anywhere."
The majority of those involved in gang or crew shootings are under 21. Many are in their teens. That is why former gang member Shanduke McPhatter, now a community activist, established G.M.A.C.C. Teens at risk have new Apple computers to do their homework and that keeps them off the streets. A weight room to get them focused on health and to work out frustrations instead of doing it through violence.
"When you talk about what's happening in our communities, we're really predominantly dealing with cliques and crews," McPhatter Said. "These are young organizations who really have no leadership, who really have no goals, no history of what they're doing."
McPhatter said he doesn't have all the answers but he is hoping that his program can at least save some lives this summer.