According to charges filed in Ramsey County on March 27, a person living on the 200 block of Congress Street East in St. Paul saw a group of guys flashing gang signs and waving pistols a little before 7:00 p.m. on March 25. The commotion worried the resident, so she called the cops.
Police rolled up to find the location where West Side gang Hit Squad had been filming rap videos taunting their East Side rivals, known as HAM Crazy. St. Paul police say the two gangs have been feuding through videos posted on YouTube and Facebook.
As the cops got out of their squad car someone yelled "Cops!" and the large group scattered. Police found two loaded 9mm handguns hidden beneath a propane grill and inside a garbage can, and were able to track down and arrest more than fifteen people, including at least seven minors.
There were scratch marks on one of the gun's serial number, so police hauled them all to jail on a suspicion of possessing a firearm with an altered serial number.
One of the men arrested, John Epps, told the cops he ran because he was afraid of getting shot. Epps, a member of Hit Squad, according to the charges, also told police that he had been jumped by at least 10 members of HAM Crazy after a recent basketball game and they had stolen a chain he was wearing.
Police say he was making a video promising retaliation.
The cops confiscated a digital camera and two SanDisk memory cards off of one of the minors they arrested. They found footage from the night of the arrests, showing many of the people arrested flashing gang signs, waving guns and making threats over the stolen chain.
From the charges:
In the same video, Damarious Gilbert later raps wearing a necklace and a jacket with PP on the front. Gilbert raps at HAM Crazy gang members that if they want the chain he wears to come see him he'll be clapping -- in other words, shooting.
Also in the video, Epps raps "Take these hollows to the fuckin' brain," while he and others, including Michael Trevino, take turns pointing guns at the camera.
Five people ended up being charged with 2nd-degree riot and crime committed for the benefit of a gang: Epps, 18, Gilbert, 18, Trevino, 19, Michael Garcia, 19, Tyvion Benson, 18. The two charges carry a combined maximum of 15 years in prison.
Police say everyone charged is in the Hit Squad except for Garcia, who is in the Latin Kings.
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