A Utah teenager was sent to the hospital with a bullet wound in his chest from what is believed to be a gang related shooting at Liberty Park.
The 16 year old victim was at Liberty Park with a girl when three boys believed to be 14 years old stopped and confronted them. Some heated words were exchanged followed by one of the 14 year olds shooting the victim in the chest. This gang related shooting doesn’t appear to be a planned meeting, just a chance encounter between members of different gangs.
Young victim and younger suspects
Both the victim and the suspects of the gang related shooting were minors, most of who were not even old enough to carry a drivers’ license. At an age when most kids are barely starting high school, what gang ties could these teenagers possibly have?
Why kids join gangs
There are several reasons why young teenagers join gangs.
• Older siblings already gang members. Not everything handed down is harmless. Following the lead or even being initiated by an older sibling is sometimes a reason for joining a gang.
• To fit in or have friends. Teenage years are a tough age that can turn kids towards any group that will openly accept them. Gangs may also offer protection to teens who live in high crime areas.
• Fun or boredom fixer. Gangs are glorified by movies and TV which show gang life as being exciting and rewarding while doing whatever you want at the expense of others.
• By force. Teenagers don’t always willingly join gangs. Sometimes they are forced or threatened to join a certain gang or to pick a side between multiple rivals.
Warning signs of gang activity
Parents need to be aware of the warning signs of potential gang activity such as: wearing gang colors, knowing signs, drug use, withdrawing from family, and having large amounts of money. Intervening early can protect teenagers from becoming the victim or the suspect in gang related shootings. For information on criminal charges for teenage gang members, contact a criminal defense attorney.