Gang members accused of murdering two people and shooting at four homes during a four-month spree from November 2007 to February 2008 in Murfreesboro were indicted by a federal grand jury, the U.S. Attorney said Tuesday.
Nine members of the Vice Lord Gang based in Chicago were indicted for charges including murder, kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, attempted murder, conspiracy to possess firearms in relation to violent crimes, the use and carrying of firearms in violent crimes and conspiracy to distribute drugs, reported U.S. Attorney Ed Yarbrough during a press conference at his Nashville office.
Defendants indicted include:
• Roger Wayne Battle a/k/a “T-Wayne,” age 28, of Nashville.
• Jessie Lobbins a/k/a “Jessie Oliver” a/k/a “Trap,” 24, of Nashville.
• Gary Eugene Chapman a/k/a “Wheat,” age 30, of Murfreesboro.
• Christopher David Imes a/k/a “Chris,” age 21, of Murfreesboro.
• Demarco Lewayne Smith a/k/a “Marco,” age 23, of Murfreesboro.
• Lashandra Danielle Hightower a/k/a “Daniel,” age 26 of Murfreesboro.
• Curtis S. Green a/k/a “Curt,” age 28, of Nashville.
• Samuel Joseph Gaines a/k/a “Born Ready,” age 22, of Murfreesboro.
• Delregus Alexander a/k/a “Blow,” age 35, of Murfreesboro.
Smith, Gaines and Green remain at large but Yarbrough believes they will be in custody soon.
Murfreesboro Police Detective James Abbott, who actively investigated the Murfreesboro murders and shootings, was the leader of the investigation joined by Agent Melinda Sears of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and U.S. Assistant Attorney Van Vincent, Yarbrough said. Detectives in Murfreesboro and Nashville joined in the probe.
The defendants are members of the Traveling Vice Lords and the Conservative Vice Lords gangs.
Vincent said the two gangs acted in concert together.
“Gangs of this type are moving into Middle Tennessee,” Yarbrough said. “We are not happy about that.”
The first gang related murder occurred Nov. 10 at “The Drink” nightclub on Memorial Boulevard when Donnell “Hit Man” Valentine, leader of the Conservative Vice Lords, was shot and killed. Battle, Imes, Gaines and Chapman were assaulted during the fight.
Indictments stated the assault occurred after Battle, Imes, Chapman and Valentine kidnapped Antwon “Tweezy” Butler and put him out of the gang by beating him. Butler was accused of not coming to Valentine’s aid during a fight earlier that night.
As a result of the assault and murder at “The Drink,” Battle, Chapman, Imes, Smith, Hightower, Green and Gaines, conspired to retaliate against those persons believed to
have been involved in the assault and murder by shooting at locations where those persons were thought to live.
The indictment alleged:
• The first retaliatory shooting occurred on Nov. 13, 2007 at 431 East State St. in Murfreesboro. There were five persons in that house and two of them were shot during the incident.
• The second shooting occurred on Nov. 14, 2007, at 907 West Main St. in Murfreesboro. There were four persons in this house at the time of the shooting. Moss James Dixon, 66, was sitting in his home watching TV when he was shot and died as a result of his injuries.
• The third shooting occurred on Nov. 18, 2007, at 1401 Eagle St. in Murfreesboro. There were three persons in the residence at the time of this shooting. None were injured.
• The fourth shooting occurred on Jan. 1, 2008, at 424 Castleview St. in Murfreesboro. There were three persons in the residence at the time of this shooting. Two of those persons were shot.
A fifth shooting occurred Feb. 10, 2008 when Brandon “Chicago” Harris was shot near O’Charley’s restaurant on Bell Road in Nashville. The indictments stated Harris, a member of the Mickey Cobras, a gang aligned with the Vice Lords, commented Battle had some involvement in Valentine’s murder. Battle and Lobbins lured Harris to Rice Road in Antioch where “Battle and Lobbins shot Harris to death,” the press release stated.
During the press conference, Yarbrough said innocent people were shot as part of the gang retaliation.
Yarbrough said the cases will be prosecuted at the federal level because of three reasons:
• The federal grand jury has the power to subpoena witnesses.
• Defendants convicted in federal court for murders and kidnappings must serve 100 percent of their sentence without parole and receive longer sentences.
• Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies worked together to prosecute the cases.
Murfreesboro Deputy Police Chief Randy Garrett said the message for gangs is law enforcement officers will work together to rid the community of gang activity.
“Bullets don’t have eyes,” Garrett said, noting that innocent people were shot in the drive-by shootings.
Garrett commended Abbott for doing an outstanding job and working tirelessly on the case.
After the press conference, Murfreesboro Detective Maj. Jim Gage said he was proud of what Abbott did with the case. He appreciated the help of Sears and Vincent who spent many long hours working in the case.
“As we’ve seen in the past, few gang members are willing to pull the trigger,” Gage said, adding those who do shoot others face prosecution on the federal level with stiffer sentences. “We can see the end result is worth the long hours of investigation.”
Garrett said because of the huge team effort pooling resources, the agencies worked together to bring the suspects to justice.
“It makes our citizens safe at home,” Garrett said.
Abbott said most criminal gangs are involved in trafficking drugs and firearms.
“Money is to be made,” Abbott said. “They accept murders and shootings are part of the business.”
During the press conference, Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas said Sgt. Gary Kemper of the Gang Unit learned about Battle several years ago. Battle was convicted of trying to assault police officers. He was sentenced to eight years in prison but released after serving three years.
Steve Gerido, assistant special agent in charge of the ATF’s Nashville office, said the indictments send a clear message to gangs.
“It will not be tolerated,” Gerido said. “When you seek to terrorize, we’re going to get you.”
Click to view image: 'gang'
|Liveleak on Facebook|