Gang Violence Increases in LaGrange

LAGRANGE, GA (WXTX) - It's what LaGrange residents feared most--increasing violence between gangs leading to the city's second murder of the year.

A violent month ended in the murder of 24-year-old Raymond Parker Tuesday night.

LaGrange police say the increase in crime all comes down to more gang activity, and more guns in the hands of young teens.

The trend has police worried.

"I'm alarmed. It seems more and more the ages range between 15 and 21. The younger generation is not understanding the ramifications of their actions," said Sgt. Mark Cavender of the LaGrange Police Department.

Officers say in the past month, they've seen more armed robberies of homes and businesses, and a rise in random shootings.

It's not just pistols--police have spotted assault weapons in several different neighborhoods around the city.

"They are commonly referred to as 'hybrid gangs.' They adopt certain traits or styles from the  Bloods, Crypts...and employ them into the smaller gangs we see here," said Sgt. Cavender.

For the small town of LaGrange, this kind of violence has not been the norm.

Lately, many groups around the city have organized peace marches.

More neighborhoods are also putting together crime watches, but the circle of violence has started to affect normal life.

"People don't feel safe to come out of their homes after dark anymore in certain areas because of the random gunfire that goes on. It's not something that people who was born and raised here are used to," said Sgt. Cavender.

LaGrange police have organized a crime suppression team that operates in the neighborhoods with high gang activity.

They also work with school resource officers, as well as informants to stay ahead of the curve.