NYPD investigators -- with Commissioner William Bratton in tow -- rounded up reputed members of two armed gangs Wednesday suspected of carrying out a series of wild shootings in the Bronx, including one that killed a 4-year-old boy watching a basketball game in July 2012, officials said.
Bratton was present for one of dozens of arrests officers made of suspected members of the rival gangs Six Four Goons and Forest Over Everything, police said. The two gangs operate in and around the Forest Houses in the South Bronx.
NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said Bratton was present to show support for the officers, but didn't go up to the apartment being raided because his security team wouldn't allow it. Davis also said that no one was in the apartment.
Bratton had tweeted photos of himself with the officers involved in the raid.
Lloyd Morgan, the 4-year-old shooting victim, was watching a basketball game near Forest Houses when he was struck by a bullet fired during a fight between the two gangs, police said. Two of the suspects indicted Wednesday, Rondell "Spyder" Pinkerton and Ronald "Tab Lucas" Jeffrey, had previously been charged with Morgan's killing in what police said was part of a long-running war over turf, which had led to numerous shootings over at least a two-year period. No ages for the suspects were given.
"It was just a territorial beef," Sgt. Timothy Jaycox of the NYPD housing police said.
Police developed leads in the case from Facebook, where gang members discussed plans and shootings, as well as through wiretaps, Bronx prosecutors have said.
The shootings often were wildly done over great distances, which increased the probability that innocent people would be hurt, investigators said. Sometimes, the gang members wounded each other.
"They didn't really care who was around," Sgt. Christopher Pasquale, of the 41st Precinct, said. "It will come out that they made plenty of statement that were indifferent to human life."
In all, 34 defendants were charged in the indictment, although it wasn't clear how many were in custody by Thursday evening. The suspects face charges of conspiracy, attempted murder and weapons violations. The conspiracy and attempted murder charges carry maximum prison terms of life to 25 years, respectively, prosecutors said.
The roundup comes at a time of increased shootings around the city in recent weeks. Increases were markedly up in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Faced with those increases, the NYPD said it will focus more activity on gangs believed to be responsible for the violence.