Gang violence in Omaha has decreased in the past several years, but new members continue to get younger according to Omaha Police.
Lisa, a single mother of five who asks we protect her identity, suspects her sixteen-year-old son is in a gang. She says his behavior and life is spiraling out of control.
"Every time I see a helicopter I hear sirens I'm waiting. I am. I am waiting for that call," said Lisa.
WOWT 6 News attempted several times to contact her son, but he was consistently unreachable to us and to his mother.
"I don't know what he is capable of now. I want to say at one time I could say 'no he would never do this' or 'no he would never be a part of that' but now, probably," said Lisa in tears.
Lisa tells WOWT 6 News that the signs her son has joined a gang have mounted in the past few months. He began wearing certain color clothes, he skipped school and his grades dropped, and he started hanging with a new group of people. Finally, Lisa's daughter told her that she saw him being beaten up by a group of boys and not fighting back.
"It certainly sounded based on her description that it could be a form of gang initiation which is termed as 'jumped in' where several gang members will fight and beat up an individual and that individual will take that beating to show his loyalty," said Lieutenant Ken Kanger, with the Omaha Police Department's gang unit.
We showed parts of Lisa's interview to Lieutenant Kanger and Alberto Gonzales, a gang specialist with OPD.
Gonzales has worked in gang prevention for decades and recently joined OPD. He said parents who suspect their children have joined gangs should first question what is going on at home.
"These kids are angry. They're ticked off. Things ain't right at home and who's going to give them some good times, some good love? The gangs are going to show it to them," said Gonzales.
The murder of Brandon Wallace allegedly committed by four teenagers showed how susceptible young people can be to violence. The median age of the four teens is 16. Still early in the investigation, we asked Lieutenant Kanger if the four young suspects' motives were gang related.
"Any youth that's involved in any type of crime we have to look and see if those are the motives behind it but it's not always the motive behind it," said Lieutenant Kanger.
Gonzales says parent should immediately seek help. Find and organization, church or support group that specializes in gang prevention. If parents believe their children plan to harm themselves or someone else, they should seek police.
"The one thing that breaks my heart more than anything in the world is when I'm at a funeral and you're seeing a mother crying over her child, while he's laying in that casket trying to breathe air back into him. That child is not coming back," said Gonzales.
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