Police educate public on gang violence

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – A horrific crime is prompting action in one Chesterfield neighborhood. The alleged gang-related death of 13-year-old Devin Hawkins left people in the Chester terrified, especially since he was hit by a stray bullet.

Tuesday night, police addressed a packed house about gang violence in that area. Police are hoping the public's knowledge will truly be power, the power to stop gang violence.

On a Saturday night in April, innocence was shattered with the pull of a trigger as a bullet meant for someone else claimed the life of Devin Hawkins. According to police though, the ultimate blame lies in the decision by three men to join the Bloods gang. That violence is something Karen Porter hopes will never land on her doorstep, which is not far from the Hawkins' crime scene.

"When that child was shot, it really put a hurting on us," she explained.

That hurt and fear brought her to Tuesday's meeting.

"I wanna know how to recognize them," Porter said.

And now her neighbors are chiming in with similar questions for gang Det. Mark Haynes.

Many of those answers can be found in the information handed out by the police department.  One even has specific warning signs that a child may be involved in a gang.

"The most important intervention that can happen is by parents, grandparents and the community at large," Haynes said. "By the time they get to us a lot of individuals are entrenched in a gang mentality."

Haynes' newly formed gang section with two other detectives, a sergeant and analyst is working to spread that message so he'll never have to respond to another scene involving gang violence..

The gang section has set up an email address so you can contact them with any concerns or to give another presentation to a community group. Find them at GTF@Chesterfield.gov.

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