Guilford County Sheriff’s Office works to combat recent gang activity

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It was a chaotic scene outside of the Guilford County Courthouse Wednesday morning after reports that there were shots fired.

“There were definitely four shots fired off that I heard that came from right in front of this building,” Sheriff BJ Barnes said.

It happened just feet away from Barnes' office.

“As I was coming out one of my employees was coming. She had been out at another office. I immediately told her to get in the building. She rushed inside the building and started looking for where the shots came from,” he said.

Barnes believes this situation was gang-related. He says that earlier that morning his administrative assistant witnessed a drive-by shooting on MLK Drive not too far away.

“We are having a lot of different gang activity and these are the type of things that end up happening. There is initiation rights for example, where you are told or that gang member is told to commit some crime,” Barnes said.

Right now, deputies have identified 72 gangs in the area.

Thursday, they arrested six Ragdale High School students for fighting on campus. There was also violence reported at Eastern Guilford High School. Barnes says a lot of this stems from turf wars.

“There's still two main sets of gangs that are out there and that's the Crips and the Bloods. You can't tell by how they dress anymore,” he said.

While this is not a new trend, the sheriff's office gang unit works closely with Greensboro and High Point police and the jail to help identify gang members.

Part of the department’s effort is focused on schools.

“We try to educate our teachers. We try to educate our administrators within the school,” Barnes said.

He says that school resource officers are another component that helps when it comes to gang activity in schools.

Barnes says he wants to work with the school district and be better prepared going into next school year to help deal with gangs.