In southeast Houston’s Third Ward, several people died recently as the result of a so-called gang war that’s been going on for years. An area church leader told the Houston Chronicle that generations of families have been “wiped out,” that “there is a hopelessness and a despair that has affected all of the families involved.”
Chronicle breaking news reporter Samantha Ketterer has been reporting on the story, and says the two gangs, Young Scott Block and 100 Percent Third Ward, are fighting over territory, reputation and even some more personal issues. “Generational beef,” she calls it.
And social media is also playing an important role.
“Social media … has really become entrenched in how these gangs have been able to operate,” Ketterer says. “Authorities have been able to access just droves of social media content from these gang members.”
She says law enforcement is sifting through millions of messages in which gang members are “brazen” about how they talk about violence.
“With how they talk about each other, with how they talk about killing, with how they talk about just any sort of issues that they may have, and, kind of, how they’re going to address them,” Ketterer says.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg told The Chronicle that this gang war is particularly violent. One example of that, Ketterer says, was the murder of De’Lindsey Mack in 2018. Mack was shot and killed while walking home from high school in the River Oaks neighborhood.
“That drew a lot of attention,” Ketterer says.
In another instance, a child was waiting for his mother outside of a nail salon when he was shot and killed. She says that incident was also linked to the gang war.
Ogg, the district attorney, has spoken out against the violence, but she says Houston’s mayor and police chief declined to comment for her story, so she says the solution is still unclear.
And while the term “gang war” – coined in this case by District Attorney Ogg – could be inflammatory, Ketterer says one local says the term could encourage people take the situation more seriously.
“Someone at the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center – you know, he thought the term ‘gang war’ could give this issue a reason to exist even more,” Ketterer says.
Written by Caroline Covington.