By Steve Pickett


DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM)When a 9-year-old girl was killed in an East Dallas shooting last week, Dallas Police identified the suspect as a known gang member.

The arrest would be the latest incident involving child shooting victims and accused gunmen affiliated with Dallas gangs.

“A number of these incidents have involved gang members. Individuals in those incidents were documented gang member,” Lt. David Davis said Wednesday.

Davis is the commander for DPD’s Gang Unit. In an exclusive interview with CBSDFW, Davis confirmed an burgeoning increase in juvenile gang affiliation committing criminal acts of violence.

“They are younger. Gangs are utilizing social media as a way to recruit younger, and identify individuals that may be targets to become members of a gang. We see social media glorify criminal acts and behavior, and for some, that is an allure,” Davis explained.

Over a span of the past two months, four violent juvenile deaths, including the shooting of Brandoniya Bennett in East Dallas, have alleged gang members as suspects. Dallas’ 25 member gang unit works to identify and often infiltrate gang organizations operating criminal operations in Dallas.

But Davis says several criminal cases today involve juvenile gang members who escalate conflict via social media channels, then confront each other with weapons.

“What we have found with the advent of social media, a number of the incidents are originating from social media disputes, one rival group that posted something. The other group sees it on social media. It then evolves into a criminal act,” Davis says.

Dallas Police gang unit (CBS 11)

The gang unit is part of DPD’s summer crime initiative. It includes targeting gangs, guns and drugs. They have arrested a number of gang members. Davis says early intervention and community attention toward teens will also help reduce the charm for juvenile appeal for gang affiliation.

“There’s no one who wants to ever see what happened to that nine year old. What we ask is for the community to be a willing partner,” Davis said.