Chester holds gang summit aimed at stopping violence

Police say multiple active gangs operate on Chester streets.


CHESTER, S.C. --More than one hundred people showed up to Chester County's first Gang Summit Thursday night.

Sheriff Alex Underwood opened the floor to parents, pastors and community leaders concerned with the recent surge in gang violence.

So far this summer, there have been two gang-related murders, one of the victims was a 16-year-old high school student.

"When I heard about it, that could have been my child," said Chester resident Rodney Brown, "it hit me kinda hard."

Sheriff Underwood said part of the problem is many expect law enforcement to fix everything.

"The biggest part of it is it starts at home. Law enforcement is not here to raise your children," explained Underwood, "parents have to be parents. A lot of teenagers spend a lot of time alone here, so they turn to the streets. They become gang members because they are looking for a family, the gang becomes their family."

People at the summit suggested a 24-hour recreation center where teens could play basketball, video games or do homework under the supervision of law enforcement or members of the community.

Underwood took down suggestions and told the crowd he would look into vacant buildings that could possibly serve that purpose. He also asked adults in the community to sign up as mentors for troubled children.


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