A major takedown at two housing projects leads to criminal charges against more than 100 alleged gang members, including one whose sister had been fatally caught in the crossfire. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Suspected gang members turned a pair of Harlem housing projects into a war zone for the people who lived there, authorities say, and for what?
"They don't have a hierarchy of sorts. They're not organized crime. They're not even disorganized crime. They're just these amorphous groups that come together, have these crazy issues with each other, it's all about violence,” said Police Commissioner William Bratton.
And early Wednesday morning, police officers swarmed the Manhattanville and Grant Houses, rounding up dozens of suspected members of the Make It Happen Boys and Money Avenue, who authorities say were in a bloody turf war against 3 STACCS.
It's one that dates back to 2010, with its members tied to two homicides, 19 non-fatal shootings, as well as beatings and crimes carried out even by armed 15-year-olds.
"The toll has been extraordinarily high on that community. Numerous men and women have been shot and lost their lives to gun violence in West Harlem during the period charged in this indictment,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Authorities say the feud amounted to little more than a bloody battle among the three crews,some of whose members were already locked up.
“These three gangs were not sophisticated drug trafficking organizations, far from it. They were young people protecting their territories from imaginary threats and avenging the murders of fellow gang members and loved ones,” said Vance.
Among those loved ones? 18-year-old Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy, an 18-year-old high school basketball star gunned down in 2011. And among those charged today? Her brother.
"The violence didn’t end with Tayshauna's murder. Because Tayshauna's brother is alleged in the indictment to be a member of 3 STACCS and one of the young men to be charged in this case with conspiracy in the first degree,” said Vance.
Authorities said some of those charged used Facebook posts, cell phone videos and placed calls from Rikers Island to plot criminal acts against rival gang members.
Making life miserable for those living in the housing projects.
"You're supposed to live here in peace. Especially the young people, they should be able to get along,” said one resident.
Minus the guns and mayhem.