Clinton Shawn Martin Jr., is a local leader of the Gangster Disciples, specifically the six deuce trey set

Clinton Shawn Martin Jr., 24, of 31 E. Market St., Harrisonburg, was arrested in early January. Police say Martin is a local leader of the Gangster Disciples, specifically the six deuce trey set, according to multiple search warrants filed in the case by a CHARGE Gang Task Force investigator.Martin was one of four people arrested in January in connection to a two-year gang investigation. He was arrested on Jan. 15 as he attempted to trade drugs for guns in the Roses parking lot on Mason Street.Martin faces 46 charges, including drug distribution, firearms violations and gang participation.
"[The Gangster Disciples] are probably one of the more prevalent gangs in this area," said Lt. Kurt Boshart of the Harrisonburg Police Department. "They're probably one of the most organized."
Randy Crank, president of the Virginia Gang Investigators Association, a group that provides resources and training to local law enforcement agencies, said Harrisonburg's gangs are most likely independent groups and have no official affiliation with the major gangs or their nationwide network of chapters."What you have is homegrown," said Crank. "They will use the national gang signs, symbols, colors and hand signs even though they don't have any ties nationally."Boshart said Martin grew up in Harrisonburg, but might have had some ties nationally.Crank said Gangster Disciple members, or those claiming to be members, can usually be identified by the use of a three-pointed pitchfork and six-pointed star in "taggings," or graffiti, and other materials. They also go by the numbers "74" - a reference to the seventh and fourth letters of the alphabet, "G" and "D", he said. Boshart said this case, and several recent cases, show that gangs exist in the Shenandoah Valley and are growing."We're seeing a steady progression unfortunately," he said, adding that it's getting more violent.
A few years ago, he said, he would tell people that there was some gang activity, but it was rarely an issue and even when it was, it rarely turned violent.
But that's changed, he said."Last year, we could say at least we didn't have a murder," said Boshart. "Unfortunately, we can't say that now."Boshart was referring to the shooting of Reginald "Shay" Nicholson, 19, of Staunton. Nicholson was mortally wounded on Nov. 9 after he left a party at an apartment in the Hunters Ridge complex off Port Republic Road. Nicholson died 12 days later at the University of Virginia Medical Center.Police say the killing was gang-related, pointing to witness statements that say a group of people entered the apartment prior to the shooting yelling "Bloods in the house." As gang activity becomes more violent in the Valley, police say local residents need to step up."Gang activity is a community issue that the community needs to get behind," said Boshart.He said it needs to be a collaborative effort between the educational, business and faith-based communities, as well as public safety agencies and parents."Everybody plays a part," said Boshart, adding that residents need to report what they see. "If you're driving down the road and see some suspicious gang activity and say ‘We'll just let the CHARGE Gang Task Force handle that,' we've lost. The community has lost."Boshart said continuous education is the key to ending gang activity."Everybody has to stay educated, especially if you're dealing with children," said Boshart. "What we learned last year might not apply this year."

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