"Turf Boys" Represent New Type of Gang

A citywide search in Savannah is over. All of the so-called Turf Boys are now behind bars. Police picked up the fourth and final member of the gang late last night. They got a tip that Corey Milton was at the Gateway Inn on Abercorn Street and took him into custody.

Police had been asking for help from all over the community to find and capture the Turf Boys, saying the gang is responsible for three shootings in the span of six days earlier this month.

"There was just a groundswell of tips and calls from the community and even pressure from the community on two of the young men to turn themselves in," said Chief Dan Flynn of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department. "This is unprecedented."

Unfortunately gang violence is nothing new. But the Turf Boys are part of a different kind of gang gaining popularity across the country. They fall into a fuzzy category of gang because they're not traditional, meaning they don't have a lot of the organization or established rules of gangs like the Bloods or the Crips.

Police say the string of shootings that began on April 6 is the worst example of the growing trend in youth violence.

"These are young people that got into a dispute with one another and solved those disputes with guns," said Chief Flynn. "This is a deadly and terrible scenario."

And while investigators do consider the Turf Boys a gang, it's not the easiest label to put on a group. The Turf Boys, for example, consist of only four members total.

"The definition of what exactly constitutes a gang is something not only this community grapples with, but communities across the nation," noted Flynn.

These nontraditional gangs can often be more dangerous and harder to track than traditional gangs, because they lack even the basic rules that govern those.

But traditional gangs do exist in Savannah. During a community forum the day of the third shooting, Ken Jones, an expert on the subject, said they are thriving in Savannah. "Based on some of the graffiti that I've analyzed here in Savannah, there are definitely some national gang symbols."

But more and more, the criminals police deal with are coming from these splinter groups instead. "Not often do we see stereotypical gangs, gangs with colors like the Bloods and the Crips, that fit neatly into a profile," said Chief Flynn.

To reiterate, all four of the Turf Boys have now been arrested in connection with a string of shootings from earlier this month. Police say the four men were the only members of the gang and all four are believed to have been involved with all three shootings.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com