A closer look at gangs in Louisa County

By Tara Morgan - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander – email

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - Prosecutors handling that high profile case told a judge the suspect claimed to have gang ties. It's a big city challenge in the country, but just how widespread is gang trouble in Louisa.

Surprisingly to some, the Louisa Sheriff's Office has a gang task force. Authorities say they saw what was happening in other larger communities with gangs and didn't want it to become a problem.

Louisa County -- a quaint community known for its picturesque farmland and rich civil war history, but you'll also find tell-tale signs of street gangs.

"It's a small town, always been that way. I guess eventually big cities expand but you just don't picture it in a small town like this," said resident Chuck Nuckols.

Spray painted on the back of a store on East Main Street and an old school building in nearby Mineral are markings indicating the possible existence of the Bloods and Crips -- two rival gangs based in Los Angeles.

"I think the way we've seen it here is more to denote quote unquote territory," said Patrick Siewert.

Detective Patrick Siewert is the Louisa County Gang Task Force Coordinator. Siewert says any gang influence in the county has trickled in from other larger communities.

"We're smack dab in the middle of Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, and Richmond so there are ties to all those different areas within our county," said Siewert.

The Louisa Sheriff's Office created its gang task force three years ago. Investigators undergo extensive training including deciphering gang graffiti to help keep the issue from growing into a big problem.

But graffiti is tame compared to other crimes gangs throughout the country are known for, including murders, robberies and drug dealings.

"We have identified members who are involved in narcotics with potential gang influences, whether the two are interconnected we can't say at this point in time," Siewert said.

The Louisa Sheriff's Office won't say if a brutal beating of an 87-year-old woman in May is gang related, but prosecutors say evidence shows the suspect, Remone Houchens, is involved with the Bloods. According to the Louisa Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, that case isn't the only one with gang ties, but they are few and far between. Still, people in Louisa say they know gang members exist in their community and in the schools.

"It seems to me a lot of the people in gangs, period, are looking for young kids looking for a place to fit in, unfortunately they're fitting in with the wrong people," Nuckols said.

But detective Siewert says what makes Louisa unique is that it's quick to address the issue.

"If there's some sort of rumbling about a group of people getting together to commit some act then we'll increase patrols," said Siewert.

Chuck Nuckols says his life hasn't been touched by gangs and prays it doesn't.

"You never know what could happen; crazy things happen in the country as much as the city," said Nuckols. 

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.