KILLEEN, Texas – After multiple shootings in Killeen, police are putting their focus on hybrid gangs. But what exactly is a hybrid gang?
“It’s kind of, more of a group of young adults who gather together based off of….usually upon territory or geographical location, and they get together, and that’s kind of how it starts,” Killeen Police Sergeant Neal Holtzclaw said.
Holtzclaw also says with hybrid gangs, most will not have a hierarchy of importance or leadership. He and Investigator Ramiro Martinez say these kids feel like they have to prove their worth because they want to be a part of something bigger.
“These young adults are trying to find somewhere to fit in, find something to identify with,” Holtzclaw said. “They see the lifestyle and they want to be a part of that lifestyle, based upon their experiences, the TV, just about anything in life. They try to emulate that and then they think, ‘This is what it should be,’ or ‘This is what I need to do.'”
Investigator Martinez has worked in gang investigation for many years, and says hybrid gang members seem mostly in it for the crime – and it is more difficult to investigate them as a whole group.
“They’re all still in it, for the most part, the criminal activity of it. Which is drugs, even homicide, things of that sort,” Martinez said. “These hybrids that are loosely organized, you have to look at the person that’s involved in that crime versus being able to go at them as an organization, so to speak.”
“Just because they’re structured differently. In those structured gangs, somebody at the top is usually benefiting from the criminal activity,” Martinez added.
Both officers did say that although the term sounds new, these type of gangs have been around for awhile. Social media has helped people not only learn about them, but also helps police investigate and make arrests.