Local gang expert: Gangs are in Jacksonville high schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News is looking into gangs in local high schools.

Friday night, two teens from First Coast High School were shot in Sheffield Park. Sources tell us, Jaquon Reeves, died from his injuries. Witnesses tell Action News, they were also students at First Coast High School. Police believe that shooting was gang related.

The students were gathering in the park to remember Johnnel Johnson. The First Coast High School football player was murdered at an after-prom party two weeks ago.

Local gang expert Ivan Brown said there are at least two known gangs in every high school in Jacksonville. According to the school district website, there are about 21 high schools in Jacksonville and Brown said that's at least 42 known gangs in our local high schools.

Brown said local high schools are pretty much breeding grounds for at least 72 known gangs in Jacksonville.

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“In 2009-2010, I said there were gangs in Jacksonville, meaning I know because we come from gangs. Now we have more than probably 72 gangs here in Jacksonville, Florida,” said Brown.

He would know. Brown is a former gang member and Gang Intervention Program (GIP) coordinator.

"You have gang members and former gang members that are no longer a part of or trying to steer people in the right way," said Brown.

But Brown said his job is getting harder and harder, "These kids aren't aiming, they're just shooting," said Brown.

Brown said his program, combined with the city's program called Jacksonville Journey, worked.

"We got it where everyone got along, there were no signs, no fighting no arguing," brown said. "It worked, it worked for four years."

Back in 2011, the funding was cut for the program, leaving Brown's organization, GIP, left to do all the work.

But he said with last week's shootings of two teen girls on a school bus and two teen boys shot in a public park, something more needs to be done.

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