DA says gangs recruiting children as young as 10 from elementary schools to commit crimes

·3 min read

A metro Atlanta district attorney says a gang is using a cluster of Cobb County elementary and middle schools as its primary recruiting ground.

Channel 2′s Mark Winne talked to Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Broady, who said that recently, two members of the gang, a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old, were charged in Cobb Juvenile Court in separate terroristic threats cases. A 14-year-old gang membes is also charged with shooting someone.

“We believe they may even be involved in a murder,” Broady said.

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Broady said the school system has anti-gang programs, but they need the community’s help.

He did not want to mention the particular schools that are being targeted by gangs in order to protect suspects going through the juvenile system. He also did not want parents at other schools to let their guard down.

“Parental involvement, the involvement of our faith-based community,” Broady said. “Making sure that kids are feeling loved and appreciated so they don’t go looking for that somewhere else. Parents all through the country need to be afraid and need to be aware.”

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The problem isn’t just in Cobb County. Brookhaven Police Lt. Abrem Ayana said his department frequently finds guns tied to very young gang suspects. He said police have found a gun in the backpack of a 13-year-old suspected of gang involvement. Brookhaven police arrested a 12-year-old gang member for shooting and wounding an innocent 10-year-old playing soccer.

“The stakes are very high for someone who’s very young,” Ayana said.

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Defense lawyer Jay Abt told Winne that he represents a 13-year-old who faces felony murder and gang charges along with two others in a March 5 shooting near downtown Atlanta that killed 16-year-old Joshua Adetunji and wounded two other teens. Adetunji was described to Abt as an innocent bystander.

The Fulton County District Attorney’s office has alleged the shooting resulted from someone firing into a crowd because of a dispute among gang members. Abt said he disputes the charges against his client and that he is not guilty.

Abt does not dispute that gang members are becoming increasingly young and increasingly violent.

“The murder rate and the violent crime rate associated with gang activity has gone way, way up,” Abt said.

Abt said the solution may be tough for folks on the left and right to tolerate.

“We have to raise taxes. In particular, local and property taxes,” Abt said. “And all of that money has to be used to massively increase the number of police.”

The district attorney said he thinks the answer is to educate teachers and parents about gang awareness.

“We welcome any conversations, which bring more safety supports, for more students,” a spokesperson for Cobb County Schools said in a statement. “We are proud of our existing anti-gang programs and partnerships with law enforcement.”

Details on the program can be found HERE.”