From Galax to Radford, Roanoke,Richmond and Danville to Charlottesville gangs are in Virginia. Earlier this month there was a killing of a teen in Lynchburg that police say is gang related.
While the numbers of gang members in the Commonwealth may not be as high as major metropolitan areas they do impact our communities.
Lynchburg police say the shooting death of a 16 year old two weeks ago was both drug and gang related. It was part of a string of violent events that began back in March. Lieutenant T.C. Clemmons says the approximate 500 gang members in Lynchburg are not just neighborhood groups but part of larger organizations.
"The overwhelming majority of the approximately 20 gangs do have national connections and national ties in Lynchburg."
Officer Clemmons says the violence that happens is between gangs and their members.
"The majority of the gangs will actually say that in their rules and regulations that most of them have to learn that some of them will go by they say that they do not target non gang members."
The worry for police is that the public may get in the crossfire. The recent spate of shootings includes firing into occupied homes and on streets. It's easy to think that from TV and video gang members can be easily spotted and avoided but Clemmons says that's not true here.
Things like tattoos or even the way they lace their shoes can show their gang affiliation. Clemmons says gangs can be found anywhere in Virginia and their department, as do others and the state, have public education programs to not only bring awareness but also to intervene and hopefully stop gang recruitment.
Lieutenant Clemmons says you can contact your local law enforcement for information about the education programs in your area.