‘It’s all gang-related:’ Sheriffs from rural Georgia counties say more kids are joining gangs

MADISON, Ga. — Since the shooting near Atlantic Station that claimed the lives of a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old boy, Channel 2 Action News has dug deep into the juvenile crime problem in metro Atlanta.

Now, we’re looking closely at the issue elsewhere in Georgia.

Channel 2′s investigative reporter Mark Winne got the rare opportunity today to get four sheriffs together to talk openly about gangs, crime, and the violence impacting our children and our communities, at an open house held at the Georgia Sheriff’s Association’s new headquarters.

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The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office supplied Channel 2 with photos that appear to show minors involved in gang activity, including one of a written oath to join a gang that was found in a DeKalb County child’s room.

Winne asked Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul about what he is seeing in his county in terms of juvenile crime, particularly gangs.

“They get out of prison or they get out of jail and they start indoctrinating these babies at home who do not have the cognitive skills to even survive the streets, hardly,” Sproul said. “They’re so young and they’re so immature. The gangs are catching (them) young. And what we’re seeing is the eight, nine, 10-year-olds being indoctrinated into these gangs by family members who have been in prison, who have gone into that gang culture, the gang world.”


“We’re having a rash of drive-by shootings and it’s all gang-related,” Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said. “These kids are all 14, 15, 16 years old. Some 17. Naturally, we get some of the bleed-over from some of those bigger counties that are neighboring us. And in those juveniles, we’re obviously seeing increased numbers and more violent offenders.”

Gang activity appears to be growing, even in quiet, rural areas of the state.

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When asked if the gang problem in his rural county is less than in most of the state, Crawford County Sheriff Lewis S. Walker said, “Well right now it is, but we know at any point it can escalate to what some of the other sheriffs are dealing with.”

“We’re seeing more juvenile offenders in Long County. We’re not like a big city in a big county,” Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles said. “We still aren’t at the levels of your larger counties in the state. But we are seeing issues in the schools. The gang presence is growing, even with the juveniles.”