103 charged over deadly gang feud
More than 100 alleged gang members have been charged in the largest such case in New York City's history, over a deadly decades-old feud that terrorised two public housing developments.
The 103 young suspects face charges including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and gang assault.
"These three gangs were not sophisticated drug-trafficking organisations," said Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance. "Far from it, they were young people protecting their territories from imaginary threats and avenging the murders of fellow gang members and loved ones."
Forty suspects from three gangs were arrested in early morning raids in Harlem, 39 were already jailed over other offences and the rest are being sought.
The crews warred over territory for two Harlem housing developments, the General Grant Houses and the Manhattanville Houses, and their feuding and vendetta attacks are thought to have resulted in the 2011 fatal shooting of a nationally-ranked high school basketball star, Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy, Mr Vance said.
Ms Murphy, 18, was shot in the General Grant Houses. Two men convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life for her murder were members of the Make It Happen Boys crew, Mr Vance said. But Ms Murphy's brother is alleged in the indictment to be a member of 3Stacks and is charged with conspiracy of the first degree.
New York City police commissioner William Bratton, who attended the early morning raids, said much of the violence was senseless.
"It's just violence for violence sake," he said. "Feuds over nothing."
Investigators from Mr Vance's office worked with gang squad detectives and Department of Correction staff to review more than one million Facebook pages, tens of thousands of phone calls from the Rikers Island jail complex and hundreds of hours of video footage in preparing the case.
Surveillance video taken from cameras in the buildings' lifts, hallways and grounds, were a major benefit to investigators, Mr Bratton said.
But not all public housing developments have video. Nearly 60% of the city's public housing buildings do not have a single camera installed - including one in Brooklyn where two small children were stabbed on Sunday, one fatally.
The gangs - 3Stacks, Make it Happen Boys and Money Avenue - are said to have used more than 50 weapons over the past four years, some of which were transported by children as young as 10, and are responsible for two killings and 19 shootings, among other crimes. The youngest gang member charged is 15.
Police estimate non-traditional street crews comprising school-aged youngsters account for about 40% of shootings across the city.
The suspects are expected to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court.