YORK -- A rivalry between two town gangs became increasingly violent this summer, police say.
A series of fights between the Cali Boys and the Valley Boys escalated to several shooting incidents during the summer. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.
But the luck ran out about two weeks ago when what started as a fist fight turned deadly. One man was killed and another injured during an incident that has forced York officials to admit they have a gang problem.
"For some time now, it's been all fun and games," Detective William Mumaw of the York Police Department said. "They'll go and shoot each other's cars up and drive off. The odds were sooner or later someone would get seriously hurt. Now, somebody's been killed."
The two groups have been around since 2004. For the most part, members were more like cliques than gangs, police have said. But with the escalating violence and now a homicide, police are stepping up patrols at the two neighborhoods.
"We have to be vigilant," York Mayor Eddie Lee said. "This battle to make our neighborhoods safe is not one we can win overnight. It's an ongoing process."
On Sept. 11, a fight on California Street between the two gangs ended with gunfire. Police say Dawud Chester was found unresponsive lying face down in a front yard with a gunshot wound to his back.
Police found 33-year-old Lorraine Shannon nearby. He was taken to Piedmont Medical Center, where he was treated and transferred to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. He was listed in fair condition on Saturday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Police eventually charged Antonio Maurice Mobley, 25, with murder. He was denied bond Thursday.
While extra patrols were in place prior to the shooting, preventing the killing might have been impossible, police said.
"Gang behavior is unpredictable," said Katrina Smith, an intelligence analyst with the York County Sheriff's Office. "There are so many unknowns when dealing with gangs."
Seventy-four confirmed gangs call York County home, according to police documents dating from early 2005 to December 2006. Smith said at least 301 people admit being part of a York County gang.
"We suspect these numbers are low," Smith said. "When taking into consideration known associates of gang members, the numbers could almost double."
The county tracks area gangs through a registry maintained by the York County Sheriff's Office, Smith said.
The Cali Boys and Valley Boys, also known as Cali Boyz and Valley Boyz, made the list in 2005, she said. Others include The Rebels, McConnell's MTown, GSU or Green Street University, and Sharon's SOS or Straight Out of Sharon.
Local gangs have not risen to the level of national gangs, Smith said. The Cali Boys and Valley Boys are considered hybrid gangs because they are local, territorial groups, Smith said.
"They adopted their own names, colors and hand signs and basically proclaim themselves as gangs," Smith said. "Sometimes, the hybrid gangs take on characteristics of national gangs. We saw SOS take on characteristics of the Bloods. They adopted their colors, hand signs and graffiti."
She couldn't speculate why neighborhood youth form gangs and wage war on each other.
"On the national level, kids tend to fall into the gang lifestyle for several reasons, such as protection from rival gangs (or) bullies or to have a sense of belonging or importance," she said. "One of the most prominent reasons is a lack of positive role models in one's life."
Smith said some national gangs put "hits" on the lives of rival gang members and commit robberies to get money to benefit their gang.
"We've not seen that here," she said.
The Cali Boys and the Valley Boys live west of York within minutes of downtown and are about a half-mile apart.
Boundaries for the Cali Boys extend along California Street and New Street, which sit about a block apart off Congress Street, York police officer Jamie Faulkenberry said.
Family ties between gangs
The Valley Boys, who sport VA tattoos, are residents of The Valley and live along Hickory Lane, Galilean Road, Valley Road and a few other streets. They reportedly run the south side from Westwood Drive to Green Street, police said.
Police say the gang colors are subject to change. Police suspect the Cali Boys use hand signals to communicate with each other, Smith said. Each gang has about 20 black male members who range in age from 15 to the mid-20s, police said.
"A lot of them are cousins, half brothers," York Police Chief Bill Mobley said. "There's a lot of family ties between the Valley Boys and the Cali Boys."
Both gangs come outside late in the afternoon or during early-morning hours and gather in someone's home or yard, Faulkenberry said.
"There's not a lot of standing still," Faulkenberry said. "They've learned if they stand still, an officer will get out with them and find out who they are, what they're doing and why they're standing on the street corner."
Instead, the Valley Boys take to the street by foot while the Cali Boys tend to drive cars. Police say their goal is to target each other.
"They'll get in the cars and ride through the neighborhoods," Mobley said. "Then they might see someone they know. ... They'll have words, and then an altercation will occur."
Both tag property with their signature "CA" or "VA," police said. Most recently, police said, the Cali Boys spray painted "Cali" on the basketball court on New Street, police say.
There was no record of them committing armed robberies, petty thefts or serious crimes.
Both had disputes earlier this year, including an incident on Galilean Road on May 8, where the Valley Boys were working on a car, Mobley said.
"The Cali Boys came by and started shooting," Mobley said. "There were some shots fired back at them."
The incident sparked another shooting two days later. The Valley Boys shot up a home associated with the Cali Boys, according to York Detective John Naylis and police reports.
A few days later, shots rang out in The Valley, prompting police to chase some members of the Valley Boys, who lost control of the vehicle, fled on foot and were later caught, according to police reports.
Nobody was hurt in the three incidents.
"This has been an ongoing thing for the last several months, where comments have been made to one and another," Mobley said.
Chester was the city of York's first homicide victim in four years.
"This is something that is totally unnecessary," Mobley said. "It's a stupid crime that should have never happened."
Yet, Smith said, there's little law enforcement can do to stop anticipated violence, especially when loyalties come into play. In most national gangs, it's against their loyalty code to speak out against fellow gang member or the gang, Smith said.
"They consider themselves family," she said. "They have a code of ethics to live by."
While she does not know the code for the Cali Boys or the Valley Boys, Smith said speaking out has costly repercussions for national gangs.
"They're in fear of death to them or their family," she said.
Dealing with gangs is not as open-and-shut as dealing with a bank robbery suspect or a bar fight, she said.
"It's much more in-depth because of their code of ethics," Smith said. "The witnesses fall silent. You've got to have cooperation from your victim or witnesses. Without it, the case could fall apart."
A day after the California Street shooting, police charged Antonio Mobley with illegal possession of a gun; the murder charge against him came later. They also arrested Monquarius Antonio Duncan, 19, on previous charges. Bond was set at $35,000, although he remained in custody Saturday night.
Nearly two weeks after the incident, police do not know what contributed to the fighting and shooting. But stopping future tragedies relies heavily on community involvement, Mobley said.
"We're going to have to work hard," he said. "We've been trying to work with the neighborhood in The Valley. We stepped up patrols in the area -- trying to get the neighbors to call the police. Gang violence is not going to be tolerated."