Louisville gangs using social media to recruit kids
The FBI says gangs are recruiting younger kids to join and help carry out their crimes.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A new danger is lurking on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Officials say Louisville gangs are using social media sites to recruit kids and bolster their images.
Last week, police say there was a drive-by shooting in the Smoketown neighborhood near Jacob and Clay Streets. Investigators say Troyvonte Hurt's friend tried to fire back at the car, but he mistakenly shot the 14-year-old in the back of the head instead.
"I think that it is a gang shooting... is what it originally started out to be," said Homicide Unit Lt. Todd Kessinger during a news conference Saturday.
LMPD says there are about 25 gangs in Louisville playing an active part in violent crime. Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Craig Donnachie coordinates operations for the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force in Kentucky, which focuses on gangs.
"We see homicides, we see shootings, breaks-ins, robberies, and a lot of drug trafficking activity, as well as money laundering," Donnachie said about gangs in Louisville.
What's even more disturbing? More often the criminals are kids.
"Gangs use younger children, they trend to younger kids because they don't have a criminal history," he explained. "They're harder to charge because they're minors."
And he says social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are now used as recruiting tools.
"If you're in a gang, it's all about respect or protection and so that's where you want to be," Donnachie told WDRB News. "You want to broadcast your brand on Facebook or social media to show why you're better than others."
After a quick Facebook search, it's not hard to find pictures that appear to show gang activity. That's why LMPD Chief Steve Conrad made a plea to parents as the city's murder rate spiked.
"If your child has pictures on their social media that show them holding guns, holding money, holding up narcotics, flashing hand signs that may be gang related, you have a problem and we would be willing to help you address that problem," Conrad said Friday.
But the same pictures gangs use to recruit can actually help investigators.
"It's easy for us to go on those sites as well and say, 'Hey, you know these four guys.' When you claim that's not the case when you speak to us, but when we go back to social media, it's all there and it's something we can save and preserve and use for evidence down the line for future investigations," Donnachie said.
Louisville Metro Police say they will not name gangs in Louisville because it gives them notoriety.
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