SILVER SPRING, Md. — Gang members are getting younger and their behaviors more aggressive in Montgomery County.
“Have we seen some recent activity and some more violent activity? Yes. Particularly in the last quarter of last year,” said County Police Capt. Paul Liquorie, director of the Special Investigations Division, who met with the group Safe Silver Spring Thursday night.
The county saw a spike in gang-related murders late last year. There were eight gang-related deaths in Montgomery County last year, up from one in 2014. One victim was just 15.
“We’re seeing younger and younger recruitment,” Liquorie said.
“Social media plays a big role in this, whether it’s identification or recruitment.”
A video police recently found online shows a group of young people who claim to be gang members showing off weapons for the camera.
The weapons included a stolen .308 rifle, and a semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine that could hold 30 rounds of ammunition.
It was filmed during the daytime in a pedestrian tunnel under Shady Grove Road.
“It says a lot to me that you’re doing this in the middle of the day. They don’t seem fearful that the police are going to come,” Liquorie said.
Liquorie also said police are noticing gang members getting more subtle about the way they use clothing to signal their affiliations.
Instead of bright, matching colors seen in years past, police are now seeing members wearing shirts that look like sports jerseys with a number on them.
“You will see just the number 18 maybe representing the 18th Street Gang, or the number 13 which represents MS-13.”
Liquorie said belt buckles and baseball caps are also used to communicate.
Some gang members will write things under the brim of their cap, and flip the brim up when they want someone to see it.