Law enforcement agencies in Grant County are working to prevent a retaliation shooting after a 10-year-old Royal City was shot in the head in a gang-related drive-by shooting. The problem is the cops are outnumbered by the criminals 16 to 1 and the community is afraid to speak up in fear of becoming casualties in the turf war between rival gangs.
The boy?s shooting is just the latest in a string of violent acts in rural Grant County where local police and Grant County deputies are concerned that it will only get worse unless the community steps in to help.
The fact is in Royal City there are two rival gangs that have people in the community scared. The number of active gang members in the area far out number law enforcement; there are 50 known gang members and only three police officers in Royal City.
The bullet holes that riddle a trailer just outside of town were meant for someone who no longer lives in the home but ended up hitting a sleeping 10-year-old boy on Saturday.
?Bullets go where bullets go and they don't give a rats behind about where they might go,? Grant County Undersheriff John Turley said.
Grant County has seen 13 gang-related drive-by shootings since January. In Royal City there are reminders everywhere of the growing gang problem. Soon after the 10-year-old boy was shot in his home graffiti was sprayed up in the neighborhood. Authorities say the graffiti calls for retaliation.
The community is intimidated by the gangs operating in broad daylight. Business owners won?t comment on the record about this story saying that they didn?t want their buildings tagged, windows shot out or worse. Longtime resident Leslie Fanning didn?t mind talking about the situation in Royal City however.
?I am not scared, what could they do to you, kill you? Well if I lose my life I am going to heaven,? Fanning, a 36-year resident of Royal City said.
Leslie is now is watching her grandchildren grow up in town that is much different then when she was young.
?I always tell my grandson you know grandpa was in a gang in high school it was called football,? she said.
Without people like Leslie who are willing to stand up to the violence the outnumbered police fear the worst.
?These guys are becoming increasingly violent and I don't blame people but somewhere we have to draw the line in the sand and say we?re not going to tolerate this anymore,? Royal City Police Chief Darin Smith said.
People that have lived in Royal City for decades say it is still a good place to live but now there is this growing gang presence, with members as young as 8-years-old that don?t have the respect for life that many others do.
Authorities know that people are concerned for their welfare so they ask that if you do witness gang-related activity to write a letter or call anonymously to let police or deputies know what?s happening so they can put their limited resources in the right place to try and curb the gang violence running rampant across both Royal City and Grant County.