Facebook Cited As Source Of Conflict Among Local Rival Street Gangs

By Jeff Neumeyer

November 1, 2013 Updated Nov 1, 2013 at 5:30 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21ALIVE) --- Can the escalating number of shootings and killings in Fort Wayne be linked to the escalating number of challenges and threats made by rival gangs on social media sites?

It was the subject of discussion at a gang violence forum held Friday in the Allen County Juvenile Justice Center.

The city’s violence problem is certainly due to more than just the rise of Facebook and Twitter, but the head of Fort Wayne's gang unit believes that's a real source of bad feelings that can blow up and cause trouble.

Sgt. Tom Strausborger says a couple of local groups, including the MOB street gang, are responsible for many of the 39 homicides in Allen County so far this year.

We're on a pace to threaten the all-time record.

At the forum, there was discussion about how rival gangs used to get sideways with each other after squabbles and fights in a neighborhood or at a school, but now, posts and comments on Facebook can lead to attack and counter-attack.

Shouldn't that very fact prompt more gang members to try and get out?

" You got to worry about somebody shooting you, so always looking around over your back, you can't sleep with both eyes closed, you got one eye open at all times, and the hours that you work, like I said, by the time you'd break it down, what you're making per hour, probably could get about the same at a McDonald's or a Burger King," said J. Foster, the Director of Youth Services for the Ft. Wayne Urban League.

Sgt. Strausborger says his gang unit is closely monitoring about a dozen gangs, but he says about 25 street gangs have some level of influence on local crime.

Hopefully, law enforcement can make some dent in that total going forward.

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