Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced on Wednesday indictments against 19 alleged Central Brooklyn gang members, with charges including murder, attempted murder and weapons possession.
Gonzalez said the defendants, all men, were members of “900,” an umbrella entity made up of various affiliated gangs operating in Brooklyn, and faced a combined 88 charges spread across two separate indictments.
“These indictments reflect our commitment to stem the surge in gun violence that we have experienced since last spring,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “Many of these defendants are accused of recklessly opening fire in broad daylight, endangering not only their rivals but innocent passersby, including children. I commend the NYPD and my prosecutors for all of the hard work that went into building these cases and am determined to continue working on similar investigations to take more shooters off our streets.”
Starting in the spring of 2019, Gonzalez said, two 900 subgroups known as Stack Money Goons (SMG) and Jayson Fam (JSF), based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, made frequent use of violence in an attempt establish dominance over a nearby rival gang called the Hoolies.
According to the DA’s office, SMG and JSF controlled areas surrounding New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments including the Sumner Houses, Tompkins Houses and 303 Vernon Avenue; Hoolies territory included 721 Willoughby Avenue and 300 Vernon Avenue, as well as the Roosevelt Houses NYCHA development.
900 members allegedly committed two murders during the course of the DA’s investigation, which ran from April 2019 until November 2020.
In the first, 23-year-old Tysean Devonish, a 900 member, allegedly posed as a young woman on Instagram and responded to a post by Tracey Washington, a Hoolie seeking individuals to open credit card accounts as part of a credit card fraud scheme he operated. The two agreed to meet at 1620 Dean Street in Weeksville Gardens on the evening of June 29th, 2020. That night, authorities said, three 900 members drove to Dean Street, and two of them approached the livery car in which Washington had arrived. One of those 900 members, Kaireil Haynie, 18, allegedly fired multiple times into the livery cab, hitting Washington, who attempted to flee down Dean Street before collapsing. Washington was later pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital.
The second murder took place on September 28, 2020. Around 3:30pm., according to Gonzalez’s office, 900 members Alexander Williams, 24, and Wydeem Rudd, 21, took a private cab to Clifton and Franklin Avenues. The two walked through the Lafayette Gardens housing project, entered 456 DeKalb Avenue, and allegedly ambushed, shot and killed Tylee Felder, who was standing in front of the building. Afterwards, the DA’s office alleges, Rudd fired into a nearby crowd outside the building, injuring two bystanders.
The first of the DA’s two indictments detailed numerous non-fatal shootings during the course of the investigation, in addition to the two homicides. Throughout the time those events took place, investigators said, incarcerated 900 members communicated with fellow gang members through jail phone calls to discuss violent acts. Defendants also allegedly used Facebook and Instagram to broadcast gang activity, and posted music videos to YouTube containing song lyrics referencing rivalries and acts of violence committed by the gang. In these posts and videos, the DA’s office said, some members adopted the names of famous basketball player, including “Shaq,” and “Kobe,” to signify their status as “shooters.”
In all, 15 alleged gang members were variously charged in a 77-count indictment for murder, conspiracy to commit murder and to possess weapons, attempted murder and related charges.
At a virtual press conference announcing the indictments on Wednesday, Gonzalez said police studying ballistics evidence had determined the same gun was used in two separate incidents. Such “community guns,” the DA said, which change hands between different members of a gang, have posed a continuing problem for public safety.
“Gang violence is driving the continued shootings” in the borough, Gonzalez said. “The fact that these community guns go and are easily moved from one person to another person is how there are seemingly so many firearms on the streets.”
The defendants are between 16 and 24 years old. They face up to 25 years in prison on the top conspiracy charge; the five defendants charged with murder face up to 25 years to life in prison. Eight of the defendants were arraigned last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court, the DA’s office said; the rest will be arraigned at a later date.
The office also announced a separate, 11-count indictment of four members of another 900 offshoot called the 1800/Humble gang, which was feuding with a rival gang called Only the Borough (OTB) for control in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. On December 25, 2019, the DA alleges, Andre Starkey, 20, and Kareem Waters, 22, walked with peers to the Kingsborough Houses in Crown Heights, where they crossed paths with a rival. Waters and Starkey each allegedly pulled out guns and fired at the person, who fled. No one was injured.
In that indictment, a total of four defendants face charges of conspiracy, attempted murder, attempted assault and criminal possession of a weapon. They face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top conspiracy charge. Three of the defendants were arraigned in Brooklyn Supreme Court; the fourth has not yet been arrested.
“This cycle of shootings generates many more retaliatory shootings,” Gonzalez said at the press event. “And until we are able to hold them accountable, identify them, arrest them and prosecute them, that cycle of violence will continue.”
The city saw a troubling increase in gun violence this year, as well as massive protests against police brutality that strained community-officer relationships. At the press event, NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison acknowledged those tensions even as he thanked his team for their work on the cases.
“2020 was a very difficult year for us and yes, there was a little bit of a divide regarding people coming forward,” Harrison said. “And that’s where you see a little bit of a difficulty in closing our cases. But some of our strategies that we have in place, one of them being neighborhood policing, that’s gonna help strengthen trust, kind of like what we had in 2019. I strongly believe that we are going to be in a better direction going into 2021.”