Local leader on gang crime: ‘We should be angry about this’

WASHINGTON — A surge in murders, violent crime and gang recruitment in schools has one local leader demanding the community get angry about gangs and work together to find solutions.

“We should be angry about this — in the whole community,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chair Penny Gross of the Mason District declared while pounding a desk for emphasis.

Gross’ district includes Homes Run Park where two gang murder victims were discovered buried in 2014. Two other people’s remains also were discovered there recently.

“Most alarming to all of us is the increase in juvenile crime and violent crime,” Jay Lanham, Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force said.

Nine of 10 people recently charged in the murder of a Gaithersburg, Maryland girl are teenagers.

Lanham joined other gang experts briefing Fairfax County Supervisors at Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting.

Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia have had more than 20 gang-related murders within the past two years.

Lanham also said there’s been a definite increase in drug, gun and sex trafficking.

Detailing how the situation in Fairfax County is similar to what’s happening in the region, Fairfax County Police Captain Paul Cleveland said there’s been a resurgence in all crimes.

“Malicious wounding, assaults have gone up in every district,” Cleveland said.

Suggestions from elected leaders and law enforcement to tackle the gang problem include intervention, prevention and education such as providing more after-school programs and teaching parents what to look for.

“We’ve had about 1,500 undocumented minor children put in our school systems over the past couple years. So, [these] problems shouldn’t really be too surprising,” Supervisor Pat Herrity of the Springfield District said.

Much like what happens in Prince William County, Herrity suggested federal resources be sought to support standalone schools for undocumented immigrants — many of whom can’t read or write in their own language, Herrity said.

Already this year, Herritty said, Jeb Stuart High School in Falls Church welcomed 47 children from Guatemala and El Salvador — the home of gang MS-13.

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