Expert: Recent violence involving teens is gang related

by: Kristy Wolski Updated:


A Jacksonville gang expert tells Action News he believes a lot of recent violence involving teens is gang related.

Ivan Brown is the director of gang intervention and prevention for Jacksonville. He is based out of the Emmett Reed Community Center.

“You have two major groups that are going back and forth at each other,” Brown told Action News, though he said there are more than just the two gangs in Jacksonville.

Brown did not want to give particulars about the gangs, because of ongoing investigations. However, he said, a lot of the gang fights are starting out as minor issues over Facebook.

“These guys are fighting over little stuff,” Brown said. “It’s not even money. It’s not drugs. It’s not girls. Just words, looks. They are fighting and dying over just crazy stuff.”

He told Action News some of the gang members are very young.

“Some of these kids who are shooters are as young as 14 years old,” said Brown. “Fourteen year olds that are out here doing the dirty work.”

JSO has not yet confirmed which of the recent shootings involving teens may be gang related. Action News has a request into the agency for that information.

So far in July, there have been several teens killed by gun violence. Harold Long, 19, was killed in a drive-by shooting. James Thomas, 14, was shot and killed out front of the Johnnie Walker Community Center. Johnathan Thomas, 16, was shot and killed on a Northwest Jacksonville street.

“We know it’s an uptick in the violence with teens,” said AJ Jordan, vice president for the organization MAD DADS.

Action News has also asked JSO for the overall number of shootings involving teenagers from 2013 and so far in 2014.