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Gang linked to suspect in cop shooting came from Chicago

KGB started as party crew in the early '80s

Apr. 18, 2011


The gang linked to Yousel L. Rivera, the suspect in Saturday's shooting of Cape Coral police officer David Wagoner, began innocently in 1980.

Krazy Getdown Boys started in Chicago as a party crew, said George Knox, executive director of the National Gang Crime Research Center in Peotone, Ill. The group began tracking gangs in 1990.

Within a few years, KGB was fighting with other gangs. Wagoner's shooting may be its first involving a lawman.

"I am not aware of KGB violence against a police officer, but any gang has that capability," Knox said. "Gangs, no matter what the name, no matter what the colors they represent, all tend to attract persons with a predisposition towards violence."

KGB's colors are purple and white. Its symbols include a sword, a shield and a six-point star. Rivera has a six-point star tattoo.

The gang may have gotten a toehold in Southwest Florida when someone with a link to it moved here, according to Knox.

"Gangs do look for 'fresh areas to operate' or areas that are unprotected, not yet target-hardened against gangs. Gangs also flourish in cities where there is a policy of gang denial," Knox said.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office declined to comment on the gang or gang activity in the county.

"Our stance continues to defer comment at this time, especially in light of the recent shooting of a fellow law enforcement officer. Media coverage identifying specific gangs plays right into the hands of what they actively seek - advancing or promoting their criminal endeavors," said sheriff's spokesman Lt. Larry King.

The State Attorney General's Office reported in February that there are 86 documented gangs with 3,000 members in Lee and Collier counties.

Cape Coral Police Chief Jay Murphy said gangs have not been a problem in this area.

Former Cape Coral Police Chief Arnold A. Gibbs worked with state lawmakers in 1996 to make it illegal to recruit for gangs.

"Many of the kids were pretty much being enticed and encouraged by existing gang members who came from other parts of the country and moved here," said Gibbs, who retired in 2002.

Under Gibbs, Cape police increased enforcement of loitering ordinances. The city started more youth programs and opened a youth center.

The city continues to do a good job, but shouldn't lose sight of the importance of crime prevention aimed at children, Gibbs said.

"Every hardened criminal started out as a child," Gibbs said.

Gang activity isn't expected in Cape Coral, according to one part-time resident.

"We were very surprised. We see this in the bigger cities up North but not in Cape Coral," said Joe Varano, who lives part of the year in New Jersey.

Problems can start in middle and high school, so police should keep up the school resource officer program, Varano said.

Cape Coral spends about $848,000 a year to keep 14 officers in schools, where they teach students how to avoid gangs and substance abuse.

The sheriff's office spends about $1.3 million to provide 17 deputies in schools in unincorporated Lee County.

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