12/17/06 — Gang conflict blamed for skirmish in lot

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Gang conflict blamed for skirmish in lot

By Lee Williams
Published in News on December 17, 2006 2:00 AM

A man was injured when six members of the Hispanic gang, Sur-13, attacked him during a verbal spat in the Wal-Mart parking lot Friday, Goldsboro police reported Saturday.

The man, who was not identified, had gone to the store with his girlfriend about 9 p.m. As he entered the store, several gang members who were loitering out front threw up a gang sign. The man ignored them and words were exchanged, police said.

Sensing trouble, four of the man's friends, hovered close by.

As the couple left the store about 15 minutes later, more words were exchanged. The gang members followed the man to his vehicle, assaulted him and a fight broke out.

That's when the victim's four friends joined in.

A sea of spectators in the busy shopping center gathered to watch the 11-man brawl, which nearly took a deadly turn, police said.

"At one point, somebody got a bat. I'm not sure which side," said Cpl. Bryant Canady, who responded to the fight with Officer Jerimee Hooker and at least two other patrol units of the Goldsboro Police Department's C-Shift. "One of the Sur-13 guys made a motion like he was going for a gun, but no one ever saw him produce one."

The brawl lasted about five minutes. During the fight, the victim received a bloody lip and several scratches, police said.

Police raced to the scene to contain the fight while those involved retreated to their cars, Canady said. Police did not have to use force to break up the fight, he said.

"When we got there, it was not an active fight," Canady said. "We had a quick response time, and we were able to get there and contain the situation."

Emergency crews responded to evaluate the victim, but he refused to be transported to the hospital. The victim also declined to prosecute his attackers, police said.

Police were able to round up three of the suspects. Members of the GPD's Selective Enforcement Unit found one of three suspects in the 700 block of Spence Avenue, Canady said.

He added that police recorded names and information about the suspects.

He said some of the gang members wore attire -- such as T-shirts with the No. 13 on the back, blue bandanas, shoes with the No. 13 on the side and blue shoelaces, blue belts with the No. 13 on the belt buckle -- that distinguish them as part of Sur-13.

The members largely were from the Seven Springs area. At least two of them attended Southern Wayne High School in Dudley, Canady said.

The ages of the gang members range from 16 to 21, he added. Many of them speak English fluently, as well as Spanish, and hail from Texas or Southern California. They also carry driver's licenses.

"We were able to do field contacts," Canady said. "If law enforcement ever comes across them again, they will be identified as gang members."

Canady said he considers the fight at Wal-Mart an isolated incident. He said he doubts the attack against the victim was a random act of violence -- especially since he declined to prosecute the case.

"This is the first time we've had something we can directly attribute to gang involvement," he said. "This is not happening every weekend or anything."

Police are aware gangs are operating in Goldsboro and Wayne County, but they are not as prevalent or as structured as in Fayetteville or Durham. But still, they said they plan to keep a close eye on their activity.

"We've got a good grasp on the gang problem in Goldsboro," Canady said. "Of course, we can't completely wipe it out, but we are definitely concentrating efforts to address the gang problem."