18 Charged in Gang Violence That Killed Two 16-Year-Old Boys

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Eighteen teenagers and young men who the authorities said belonged to street gangs were charged on Wednesday with unleashing a wave of gun violence in Brooklyn that killed two 16-year-old boys and injured 10 others over a three-year period.

Fifteen of those charged belonged to two gangs, made up of people from Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant, that formed an alliance against other gangs in the same neighborhoods, as well as in Brownsville and Flatbush, the authorities said. The rivalry led to a rash of shootings between August 2021 and May 2024, with gang members shooting at each other on streets populated with pedestrians, cyclists and families, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

Some of the people charged were as young as 14 when they committed crimes that included firing guns at people, according to prosecutors. During a news conference, Eric Gonzalez, the Brooklyn district attorney, played a series of surveillance videos that showed young men and boys, wearing hoods or masks, opening fire on busy streets, often in broad daylight.

One video showed a young couple walking with a stroller on a sidewalk just before shooting erupted. In another clip, people could be seen scattering, running into stores or ducking behind garbage cans to avoid bullets.

“All these videos make one thing clear: These defendants simply don’t care,” Mr. Gonzalez said. “They fire indiscriminately whenever they think that a member of an opposing gang is in the area, not thinking for a minute of the damage and trauma they’re causing to their own community.”

The rivalry led to the deaths of two boys: Jaquan Gause, who was shot to death as he sat behind the wheel of a car on Aug. 16, 2021; and Nayshawn Campbell, who was shot on June 25, 2022, at about 3 a.m. as he walked in his neighborhood in Brownsville. The boys, both 16, were considered rivals of the gang alliance and were targeted by the group, according to the indictment.

One of the teenagers charged with killing Jaquan was 15 years old at the time of the shooting.

The authorities said those charged later bragged about the killings in posts on Facebook and Snapchat, mocking Nayshawn on his birthday and blaming him for his death because he was out late at night.

“Individuals are not hiding, even going so far as to incriminate themselves,” said Jason Savino, the assistant chief of detectives for the Police Department.

Investigators will take the posts “with a grain of salt,” understanding that people may take credit for crimes they did not commit to inflate their street credibility, he said. But social media posts corroborated by other evidence can help the police build a case against those charged, he said.

The ages of the people charged — the oldest is 23 — reflect “a troubling and, unfortunately, all too common trend,” he added.

In March, Troy Gill, 13, was shot and killed as he walked home from a Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center. The police have said that he was a gang member and that his killing, which remains unsolved, was in retaliation for an attack on a rival.

Mr. Gonzalez said that the gangs implicated in the conspiracy were also connected to Troy’s shooting, but he declined to say whether the current case could lead to an arrest in that killing.

“I’ll leave that to the investigators,” he said.

Thirteen of the 18 people charged on Wednesday were in custody and were scheduled to be arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court in the afternoon, officials said. It was unclear whether the arraignments took place. As of Wednesday evening, the police were still searching for the other five people.

The 40-page indictment details 85 counts that include conspiracy, second-degree murder, attempted murder, possession of a weapon and assault.

It describes an alliance of two gangs that sought to maintain control of their Brooklyn territories through shootings and killings aimed at several rival gangs.

“I’ve rarely seen a gang with the influence and dominance of this magnitude,” Chief Savino said. “These subjects woke up every day with one objective: terrorizing opposing gangs.”

Caught in the violence were many “innocent bystanders,” the authorities said, including a 29-year-old man who was shot in the back and sustained a spinal cord injury on the afternoon of April 12, 2022, when two of the men charged shot at a group of people on Gates Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Four months later, the authorities said, two gang members fired on a Dodge Charger carrying four people near East 32nd Street in Flatbush. The people in the car were mistaken for gang rivals, Mr. Gonzalez said. The back window was shattered, and a bullet struck the passenger’s headrest, but no one was wounded, he said.

One of the two people charged with shooting at that car is now 17.