Police begin crackdown on gangs at schools after Katy ISD bathroom beating

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A middle school student in Katy was beaten in a school bathroom as part of a gang attack. Now authorities are working to crack down on the problem in schools. (KTRK)

Gangs are no longer just in the places some folks would consider the hood.

"Gangs are everywhere," says Sgt. Keith Hall with the Harris Co. Sheriff's Office. "They're in small towns. They're in suburbia. They're in all the urban areas. To say that they're not there, they're mistaken."

On Monday, staff at T. H. McDonald Junior High in Katy ISD found out about a physical altercation in the boy's restroom involving about 10 male students. They say one of them voluntarily agreed to be physically assaulted as part of a gang-related activity. The district won't say whether this was an initiation, but Sgt. Hall says this kind of gang activity is on the rise.

"It's not new. It's been around for a while where they're trying to get with these kids in the schools," he said.

Wesley "Bear" Jenkins was recruited when he was 11 years old by his cousin.

"He told me that he didn't want me to go through what they put other people through. He didn't want me to be ostracized. He didn't want me to be beat up coming home from school or going to school."

Six years after being beaten into the Crips, Jenkins killed a man from a rival gang. He spent 27 years in prison and got out last year, but not before giving his life to Christ and leaving the gang behind.

"I had to physically be beat out. You get jumped in. I got jumped out. They broke my nose, cracked two ribs. But compared to what Christ did at the cross, what is that price to pay?" Jenkins said.

According to Texas DPS, law enforcement agencies have identified more than 5,600 gangs across the state. DPS estimates there are more than 100,000 gang members in the Lone Star State.

The top gangs in the Houston area are Tango Blast of Houston, Crips, Bloods, Aryan Brotherhood, Surenos, Latin Kings, and Texas Syndicate. In its 2015 Gang Threat Assessment, Texas DPS says gang recruitment occurs within prisons, schools, online, and from within families. Schools are widely considered their most fertile recruiting ground.

"Just like anything, offering them something, a sense of belonging to some type of group. Maybe they're not getting that type of feeling at home," says Sgt. Hall.

"This has been romanticized in videos, movies, word of mouth, and all other factions," adds Jenkins. "Mass media, social media, you can go on YouTube right and look up a gang initiation. So this thing has been romanticized. And these kids living in Katy, Cinco ranch, Sienna Plantation and other outlying communities want to feel like they have street cred."

Both men say parents need to be on the lookout for some giveaways that their child is involved in a gang.

"Most definitely look at their skin, if they have any tattoos, any unusual markings on them," he says. "Make sure they're not beat up or anything like that because that could be a sign of some type of initiation into a gang."

Jenkins added a few things to that list: listen to your kids music, watch what they have on, and even go to their parties.

"If you're not there to instill your values and your morals in your child, I will," he shares. "The streets will. The next OG will. He'll give him what he wants him to have."

We asked Katy ISD what gang they believe this incident was affiliated with, and if other students in the school are believed to be a part. They would not answer that question.

Click here to see the Texas DPS' comprehensive breakdown of gang activity in the Lone Star State.
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