ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Four teenage girls are charged with street gang terrorism after one was beaten in a gang initiation at Dougherty High School.
The 17 year old suspected ringleader was indicted as an adult, while the other three, who are under 16 years old, are charged as juveniles. After the recent death of an Albany man during a gang initiation, Prosecutors and School Police say they are treating this as a serious crime, and will seek jail time for the girls.
Investigators say the suspects are members of the Savage Diamond street gang, an all female gang, and September 21st they initiated a 15-year-old girl into the gang by jumping or beating her in, in the bathroom at Dougherty High School, where they were all students.
School Police Investigators say 17-year-old Keyanna Knight was the ringleader of the Savage Diamond gang at Dougherty High School, leading the gang initiation of the sophomore. Three or four gang members jumped the girl in the bathroom at Dougherty High School, beating her up.
Dougherty County School Police Chief Troy Conley said "More or less, just a fistfight. A lot of swinging, and punching and clawing and scratching. She did receive some superficial injuries."
School police quickly found out about the gang initiation, because it was videotaped by students who shared it with other students. "Like I say, it was videotaped by more than one person actually in the restroom. Our officer did recover a copy of the video which was later used as evidence," Conley said.
District Attorney Greg Edwards said he will prosecute to the fullest all four girls, including the 15 year old who was beaten in the initiation. "Her participation is actually a crime in and of itself. She consented and volunteered to be in this process, and that is a crime. That is gang participation, so she is going to be charged as well."
School Police say this is the first time they have proof of a gang initiation inside a school building during school hours, and they want to make sure it does not happen again.
Conley said, "We want to always send a message to the student bodies that this type of behavior will not be tolerated on any of the campuses. Zero tolerance."
And the District Attorney says he will seek the toughest sentence he can, against even the juveniles, to let the students know gang activity will not be tolerated at school. "We've been pretty effective in dealing with gangs. And the deal is every effort to stop their activity, prevent the activity, is going to be addressed," Edwards said.
School Police say they don't think the Savage Diamond gang included more than 7 or 8 girls, but they are doing all they can to break up the all girl gang once and for all.
And this is no school prank, there are stiff sentences under Georgia law for street gang terrorism. The 17 year old could face at least 5 years in prison for gang participation and if prosecutors could prove she is the leader, that would go up to 7 years.
The juveniles could face up to 5 year sentences in a juvenile facility.
All four of the charged girls are now back in school, awaiting their trials. The District Attorney was not sure when they would be scheduled for.