Gangs on Long Island: Brentwood community seeks solution to gang problem
The Brentwood community has been rattled with the suspected gang murders of six people.
In part four of the Gangs on Long Island series, News 12 Long Island's Eileen Lehpamer and photojournalist Brian Endres speak to the stepfather of one of the victims as the community seeks a solution to the gang problem.
The skeletal remains of 15-year-old Miguel Garcia-Moran were found seven months after his disappearance, in a wooded area near Brentwood High School, after, law enforcement sources say, a suspected gang member in federal custody started talking.
Garcia-Moran is one of six murder victims found dead in Brentwood in 30 days. Gangs involvement is suspected in all the deaths.
Garcia-Moran's stepfather says he always told Miguel to stay away from gangs. He's not sure if his stepson was trying to join a gang, or got killed because he wouldn't join them.
But there is no escaping the presence of gangs on Long Island. Retired Suffolk Detective John Olivia says police lost ground in their war against gangs when the county pulled out of the FBI's Long Island gang task force for more than a year.
Sources say the Salvadorian gang MS-13 is suspected in many of the recent murders in Brentwood. Some members of the gang are believed to be undocumented immigrants.
Former Suffolk Executive Steve Levy spoke out against illegal immigration and gangs during his time in office. He says the county needs to be more proactive about getting undocumented immigrants deported if they are charged with violent crimes.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini says using federal laws to prosecute gang members will act as a big deterrent.
The superintendent of Brentwood Schools says he's tapping into an emergency fund to hire extra school security. And he's told students and teachers not to wear gang affiliated colors. The district is also making use of the Suffolk Sherriff's anti-gang program called "GREAT." Deputy sheriffs, like Jacob Gross, teach a seven-week class to children as young as 10.
Garcia-Moran's stepfather tells News 12 that after his stepson's death, he's now home schooling his teenage daughter to keep her safe. He wants to move the family to Texas to get his wife away from the memories in Brentwood.
Suffolk police say more than 50 suspected MS-13 gang members have been arrested in the last two months. Many are out on the street, pending their cases in state court, but five remain in federal custody as police continue to investigate the six recent homicides.