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'It's almost like assassins' | Law enforcement says Triad gangs are targeting kids

There are 600 validated gang members in Forsyth County alone, but up to 2,000 on law enforcement’s radar.

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Gangs in the Triad are getting more violent, and we have the numbers to prove it. It’s not because there are more of them, but because they’re targeting younger kids to join.

“There have been times where I literally had to hop in front of a gun and say, 'Don’t do it, bro, don’t shoot this man',” Legrande Roseborough said.

Roseborough puts himself in harm’s way these days. He’s a violence interrupter trying to make his home, Greensboro, a safer place by trying to deescalate gang conflict.

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“I’ve gotten calls where guys are like, 'yo, I'm on the way to go shoot this bro', 'I'm going to go shoot this house up', or 'I'm about to go do X,Y, Z'," Roseborough said. "All I got to say is come here, like come see me, and he’ll come to see me and give me his gun, and you know I'm not going to keep his gun, but you know, while you’re hot right now let me hold this, and when you cool down, come back and see me again, we’ll talk like that.”

Kids he’s trying to help relate to him because at 18, he joined a gang.

“I mean literally people were asking me to do it since I was a little kid,” Roseborough said.

The Greensboro Police Department doesn’t have a unit dedicated just to gangs but has noticed a trend.

“We’ve seen a younger victimization it seems like, especially lately,” GPD Deputy Chief Michael Terry said.

In Forsyth County, Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough said that’s the problem.

"They don't mind killing, they don't," Sheriff Kimbrough said. "Some of the things that I have seen that have been captured on video, it's without hesitation. It's almost like assassins."

“Their brains aren't fully formed, they don't know what kind of decisions they are making or what the repercussions are for those decisions, and so that's what concerns us," Sgt. Tyler Walley said. "If you got 10, 11, 12-year-old kids getting involved in the gang lifestyle, that are glorifying the gang lifestyle, that is problematic for us."

According to law enforcement, there are 600 validated gang members in Forsyth County alone, but up to 2,000 are on their radar. Investigators said those are the ones targeting kids to join.

Credit: WFMY
Forsyth County Sheriff's Department knows of 600 validated gang members but says it has 2,000 gang members on its radar.

Winston-Salem Police Department has a gang unit. Sgt. Tyler Walley said most aren’t well-known gangs like the Bloods and Crips.

“Hybrid gangs those are going to be ones that are locally set up they affiliate with a neighborhood or they affiliate with just a group of people or a rap label or something along those lines," Walley said. "Those are where we've seen the real increase in our numbers."

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety said hybrid gangs commit more low-level crimes but have a tendency to be more violent.

“There's been an increase in gangs to jump people, which is an initiation into gangs, and one of the jumps is having to steal weapons, and we're seeing a big uptick especially in the Triad of gangs having initiations where they're having kids steal these weapons," William Lassiter with DPS said. "They are more and more likely to use firearms, and automatically by using firearms in an incident that makes it a more serious incident."

Sheriff Kimbrough explains where kids are getting the guns. 

“They're on the street, car break-ins, we leave them, house break-ins, they are getting them," Kimbrough said. "The big homie who was old enough to buy a gun gives the gun to Lil homie, the little solider. I can get a gun quicker than I can a Mountain Dew, literally. We may not want to accept it, but the facts are the facts. The children or the young juveniles that are joining these gangs, they are products of their current environment and current society which they live in."

The sheriff said this isn't the worst of the problem if something isn't done.

"Gangs provide something that they're not getting in their communities or their homes," Kimbrough said. "Bottom line is we have to bring our kids and we have to show our kids some things they've never seen before."

That is exactly what Roseborough works towards. His sister introduced him to Cure Violence. An organization that aims to stop violence by using behavior-changing methods.

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He tries to show gang members there’s more to life even if it means sometimes risking his.

"We try to help each other get better every day," Roseborough said.

Prevention is key and so is time. According to the DPS, if a teen can be reached within their first year as a gang member, there is more of a chance of getting them out of a gang.

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