A Tyler police detective testifying Tuesday in a trial of man charged in a fatal park shooting said gangs here are as dangerous as those found in Los Angeles and elsewhere nationwide.
“There the same animal,” Tyler Police Detective Chris Miller testified. “They are criminals who are involved in criminal activity.”
The testimony came in the trial of Dennis Bendy, charged in the gang-related shooting death on July 30, 2013, of 20-year-old Briana Young in P.T. Cole Park.
Ms. Young was killed when members of rival gangs, the West Side Crips Rollin 60s and the 5 Deuce Hoover Crips of North Tyler, exchanged gunfire as parkgoers ran for cover, according to police reports.
Ms. Young ran to protect her 3-year-old son but was shot in the chest as she grabbed the boy. She died with her son cradled in her arms.
Miller said gang members are extremely self-centered, and the purpose of their actions are to intimidate and bully innocent residents and other gangs.
“All they care about is their street cred and their reputations. It’s all about intimidation,” Miller said.
Miller explained the Rollin 60s area is around the P.T. Cole Park and Vine Street, and the Hoover Crips are from North Tyler.
“They are very territorial,” he said.
Miller also said signs of disrespect between gangs could ignite violence. He added the two gangs have deeply hated each other since the 1990s.
Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham opened the day by telling the jury, “The city belongs to law abiding people who can go to the park with their children. It doesn’t belong to the gang members.”
Bingham said K.J. Wilson Hurd and Darrion Lee, both members of the 5 Deuce Hoover Crips, went to the park to meet some girls, knowing they were in rival gang territory.
Bingham said Bendy, Elisha Williams and Rakheem Goldstein arrived to find rival gang members in the park and began shooting.
“Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam,” Bingham said. “The Glock is fired. The Ruger is fired.”
He said Ms. Young was unable to take cover like the others because she was away from the picnic table.
“Mortally wounded, she was still running,” Bingham said. “She ran until she fell on top of her son, 50 feet later.”
DeShayla Pierce told the jury she made the 911 call that was played in the courtroom.
Many in attendance began crying as she talked about how her friend was gunned down and how she had to pull her nephew from under Ms. Young’s body.
Bingham is being assisted by Kenneth Biggs and Lucas Machicek.
Bendy is represented by Tyler attorneys Rex Thompson and Don Davidson.
Thompson deferred his opening statement in the case.