11 News Special Report: Gangs of the Grand Valley

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11 News takes a look at gangs in the Grand Valley and what parents need to know.

It starts out as having a new group of friends, then before long it turns criminal.

A local man recalls his time as a gang member and says looking back he felt like an idiot, questioning why he did it in the first place.

He is not proud of his past association. He was only 14 years old when he got into a gang. He says being so young you feel you have to prove yourself so people will notice you.

This man is speaking out now because he wants parents to know that gangs exist. He says questions parents need to ask are who are your kids hanging out with? Do you know them? How well?

Commander Assenmacher with the Grand Junction Police Department says the gangs here aren't like your street gangs that originated out of LA, the Blood or Crips. Gangs here are locally grown. However, with the types of crimes they're committing, they are beginning to resemble more threatening groups.

On October 7th, Jeremy Rosales was shot in the stomach and now 18-year-old Michael Lamenca and 17-year-old Daniel Rachal are facing attempted first degree murder charges. Their friend, James Anderson is accused of trying to hide the gun. Witnesses say they saw gang signs flashed right before that shooting.

Since 2007 there has been an 18% increase in gang activity with 60% of members under the age of seventeen.

14 year-old Thomas English and 16 year-old Erick Deleon are facing attempted first degree murder charges as adults. Officials say the juveniles shot Martin Martinez in the face when he answered his door. They also believe it may have been gang related.

Commander Assenmacher says it's time for the community to step in and for parents to become more active in their childrens lives so more gang related crimes aren't committed.

It was a hard lesson to learn, but for the former gang member being in a gang wasn't worth it.

A growing problem here but what or who's to blame? Some say media, Hollywood, or books making the gang life seem exciting, seem easy. It's a question that can speculated over and over, but according to law enforcement and a former gang member it's a little bit of everything. The best course of action is getting involved in our childrens' lives.

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