Prosecutors: Gang sweep produced "bonanza" - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Prosecutors: Gang sweep produced "bonanza"

May 4, 2007

Albany --  Prosecutors spent the day going through evidence they obtained in a massive gang sweep Thurday. They say they made no more arrests Friday, but declare they found a "bonanza of information" to help them in their war against gangs.

People who saw the raids in their neighborhood were shocked to learn that law enforcement got search warrants believing gang members lived in those homes.

Emma Johnson is the neighborhood watch president on Avalon Avenue, just around the corner from where dozens of lawmen raided two homes in their sweep against gang violence. She learned about the gang sweep on our news, but says she was not surprised.

Johnson said, "I know that it is here, but who they are I can't say, because I don't know. But I know that they are around."

Lawmen raided nine houses across all parts of Albany, not just in the South or East sections. As the search went on, Shun Williams watched, and said she was stunned.  "They seem like a bunch of nice people. They had a party, they invited my daughter. It was their daughter's birthday party."

A woman stopped in front of one of the houses and watched in disbelief. She did not want to give her name, but said her family lived there. We asked if there was gang activity going on here.? The driver said "no, not that I know of."

Emma Johnson likes to sit in front of her home, and sees teenagers walking by. "All day long. Most in the afternoon after they get out of school. They be going back and forth to the park up here."

Gillespie Park, which police tell us is a Mecca for gang activity and street violence, is right across the street from the two homes searched in the gang raids. Many neighbors who would not talk to us on camera said teens are at the park late every night, and they stay away from it, inside their homes, with the doors locked.

Emma Johnson said she is glad lawmen are cracking down on gangs and street violence in her neighborhood. "I like to walk, and I would love to see the streets clean where we can walk without being frightful."

Prosecutors say they are confident the information they obtained from yesterday's raids will help slow down gang activity around Albany.

Johnson said Police and Sheriff's Deputies patrol her neighborhood regularly, so she was surprised to see raids for gang information so close to her home.

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