CBS2’s Ali Bauman went along with them to find out how.
“They’re shooting to make a name, to make a statement,” Det. Mike Lassen said.
The 73rd Precinct in Brownsville is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.
“We sent confidential informants out on the streets in these areas just to get more information for us, more intelligence,” Lassen said.
Lassen is with the Brooklyn North Violent Crimes Squad. Their job is to investigate gang activity.
“So this is, like, one of the other dividing lines between the opposing gangs,” Lassen said.
The tight geography of gang territories creates tension, which has a ripple effect citywide.
The detectives took CBS2 to the scene of a shooting involved in the squad’s most recent takedown.
“One of the rival gang members is coming down the street riding a scooter. He catches eyes with the rival gang member, he ends up darting across the street, pulling out a firearm,” Lassen said.
An innocent bystander was caught in the middle. This is just one incident that led to the arrests of 34 alleged gang members.
Then CBS2 went to the Van Dyke Housing Complex, where another bystander was hit in an alleged gang shooting in April.
“This is during the height of COVID, so both [suspects] are wearing gloves, wearing face masks,” Lassen said.
“Why is there more gang activity right now than last year?” Bauman asked.
“Because some prominent gang members have been shot and that creates a retaliatory effect,” Lt. Ryan Gillis said. “Back in the day, gang members used to mark their territory using graffiti. It doesn’t occur as much now. What we see is they’re using social media as their graffiti.”
The detective says rival gangs taunt one another in songs, which they post online.
In one song posted online, someone says, “First shot hit Von, good night.”
The lieutenant says immediately after that song was released, there were 22 shootings between two rival gangs.
“How do you use the music, then, to work in your investigations?” Bauman asked.
“So the music, it steers us into the right direction. When they reference those specific incidents that occurred, we know that’s something we have to have a laser focus on to try to solve because it’s obviously perpetuating the violence until someone is brought to account for that act,” Gillis said.
Bottled up retribution since the pandemic as well as civil unrest and calls for police reform this summer have also had an effect.
“Some people have a mistrust for police. Some people are hesitant to call the police or seek out the police as help. Has that had any kind of impact on you this year?” Bauman asked.
“I do see that,” Gillis said. “If the community doesn’t help us, we’re never gonna achieve the goal that we wanna achieve, and that goal is to hold all these gang members that are driving this violence accountable for their actions.”
The NYPD made 160 gun arrest last week alone, the highest one-week total in 25 years.
While the department says arrests are down 1.8% from last year, the NYPD reported a 36% increase in gun arrests for August 2020 compared to August 2019.
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