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Skating rink shooting brings gang violence to forefront

Posted at 6:50 PM, Nov 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-14 06:58:25-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A shooting outside a Petersburg skating rink, that left an 18-year-old girl in critical but stable condition, has law enforcement keeping an eye on gangs in the area.

"I was distraught at where the shooting took place because we have very few places where young people can go," Petersburg Commonwealth's Attorney Cassandra Conover said.

The shooting at the skating rink started with an argument inside the building. Then it escalated outside into the parking lot.

skatefactory

"This neighborhood-based gang is a concern of mine because they are creating violence, not just in Hopewell, but now outside of Hopewell," Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane said.

Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane

Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane

Two of those charged in the shooting are from Hopewell, but those who monitor gang activity said gang violence is a widespread problem.

"I think there is a problem with gangs, not only in the Tri-Cities area, but in Virginia and in the United States," Conover said.

Many law enforcement members feel the best course of action is to go after gangs directly and not turn a blind eye.

"The best pro-active way to deal with it, is to accept there is gang activity going on and try to get them labeled as a gang, through state code so you can use those state codes, laws against them," Keohane said.

grafWhile gang signs continue to show up in some areas, Conover said the days of ignoring and not talking about them must end.

"You can't solve a problem if you don't acknowledge, face it and speak on it," Conover  said.

CBS 6 News reached out to Petersburg police for comment, but they have not returned our calls.