Facebook fights end up on street, police say

Facebook fights end up on street, police say

March 12th, 2011 by Yolanda Putman in Local Regional News

Chattanooga gang members are feuding on Facebook before taking it to the streets, local police say.

Before almost every gang-related shooting in Chattanooga, police officers get a call warning them there is an argument on Facebook and something is going to happen.

"It's crazy that typing back and forth causes people to shoot each other, but basically that's what it is," Chattanooga police officer Josh Mays said Saturday. "They're arguing back and forth, and as soon as they see each other, the first thing they do is pull out a gun and shoot."

Mays was among several hundred young people, elected officials, parents and community leaders who gathered at the East Chattanooga Weed and Seed's first gang summit Saturday at the Tivoli Theatre.

"There's way too much death going on in this city," Mays said. "Way too many guys and girls walking around with bullets in them, and that's just what we know. For every shooting or stabbing we find out about there's probably 10 or 15 that we have no clue even happened."

The summit comes after a week in which five people were shot and one died. Ronald Blackmon, 25, died after he was shot in the head March 4. Police said the accused shooter, a gang member, told them he mistook Blackmon for someone else.

The next day, someone blindly fired several shots through an apartment window, striking a 3-year-old boy and a 20-year old. Two other men were shot in separate incidents.

Parents are the front line of defense against gang activity, speakers said.

"One of the main things that I can tell the parents here is that if you do not know how to get into your kid's Facebook [page] and look and see who they are friends with and see their pictures, you're way behind," Mays said.

See complete coverage in Sunday's Times Free Press.