FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Violence between two gangs in Fort Wayne has been on the rise over the last few months.
Last Tuesday, Fort Wayne police made five arrests tied to local gang activity. On Monday, the Fort Wayne Police Department Gang and Violent Crimes unit spoke about the recent uptick.
FWPD’s Gang and Violent Crimes Detective Sgt. Gary Hensler told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that Fort Wayne has “hybrid gangs.” Traditional gangs like the Crips and Bloods were formed along ethnic and cultural lines and had a structural hierarchy, but “that’s not how our gangs are,” Sgt. Hensler explained.
In Fort Wayne, gangs are born out of friendships, he said.
“Ours, you’ve got the same 20 or so group of friends. They start as grade schoolers, middle schoolers, high schoolers. They don’t add anybody really. It’s just that particular group,” Sgt. Hensler said. “As they get older, some get shot and killed, some go to prison, some age out and grow up and some move. And that gang goes away.”
It’s unclear if Fort Wayne’s gangs have females, but gang membership has shown a spike in boys who are in late middle school and high school, Sgt. Hensler said.
Fort Wayne’s local gangs are becoming more violent. Last week a teenager was shot after answering the door at a southeast Fort Wayne apartment. Sgt. Hensler said that local street gang violence was tied to that shooting.
And the gang members are bringing weapons into schools.
“There’s been multiple guns that have been found at schools, most recently at a football game at South Side,” Sgt. Hensler said. “There were escalations and confrontations at multiple schools between these two factions that were going back and forth. We had information that they would show up and have a big beef at that football game.”
Acting on a tip, police were able to stop any violence that night. While leaving the football game, police pulled over members of one of the gangs. During the traffic stop, FWPD found drugs and a gun on school property.
Gang violence in Fort Wayne usually happens in waves. Unlike national gangs, local gangs do not have a long-term structure. When a member joins, he or she isn’t expected to grow and age within the organization.
While gangs are active in Fort Wayne, Sgt. Hensler said residents should not panic.
“It isn’t like it’s proliferation of gang violence in all neighborhoods,” Sgt. Hensler said. The violence, he explained, is spread across Fort Wayne.
FWPD asks anyone with information about any crime to call 260-427-1222 or Crime Stoppers at 436-STOP.