Prosecutors in rural Caroline County going after violent gang members
BOWLING GREEN, Va. — A gang-related shooting on the outskirts of the quiet and historic town of Bowling Green in Caroline County netted the shooter a 25-year sentence in Circuit Court there Thursday.
Jaymonie Wallance, 20, shot an opposing gang member in front of that young man’s grandmother’s house on Braswell Street on September 26. The bullet passed through 19-year-old McCartha “MJ” Stevens’ outstretched hard and slammed into his torso, leaving him critically wounded.
Caroline County Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Diane M. Abato presented evidence that the shooting was part of an ongoing feud between the MOB-30 gang and their rivals, the YG (Young Guard) 4. The jury apparently was convinced, finding Wallace guilty of gang participation as well as aggravated malicious wounding and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.
This is the latest of several gang-related convictions involving young people in that rural county in recent months.
“The gang violence in Caroline is shocking in this beautiful rural area,” Abato told CBS-6. “It’s pervasive. It’s not just tagging (graffiti), it’s drive-by shootings, robberies and homicide.”
Earlier this week, there was a preliminary hearing in Caroline County for the alleged YG-4 gang member who fatally shot 16-year-old Elijah “Buck” Ball outside of the Ladysmith-area YMCA last month. The alleged gang member now facing a murder charge is just 15 years old.
Abato said it’s troubling that many of the gang members are juveniles. She said parents have to get involved, noting that during Thursday’s trial, jurors heard of one gang member’s mother “liking” photos on Facebook of her son throwing gang signs.
This isn’t kids playing make-believe, Abato said.
“It’s criminal and it’s violent,” she said. “We’re not going to stop until it stops. If it takes locking them all up, that’s what we’re going to do.”
This is an area that hasn’t seen much bloody conflict since Civil War. Bowling Green is known for John Wilkes Booth being caught nearby after he assassinated Lincoln.
This is a cozy, friendly ‘berg that, for most of the last century, had a small, two-story jail built in 1900 with six or so cells – so small that when the court order came to integrate, the sheriff politely replied that they didn’t have room to segregate.
The most famous inmates in that historic jail were Richard and Mildred Loving. Their illegal love led to a Supreme Court decision overturning laws prohibiting interracial marriages.
And few years earlier, a young (19) and skinny Wilt Chamberlain spent one night in a cell there after he was busted for reckless driving by Ottie J. Moore, a young state trooper who was assigned to the area and was eventually elected sheriff, serving from 1964 to 1991.
Residents and authorities will tell you the gang activity involves young people from other parts of the county feuding – Ladysmith, Dawn, Sparta. It’s the kind of beefing that has gone on for years, only now they’ve formed gangs and are using guns instead of fists, Percy Craddock told CBS-6. He grew up in the area.
This kind of violence far from represents the Mayberry-like town of Bowling Green, several residents said.
“We die down around nine o’clock at night,” said Mary Hatch, who works in a restaurant on Main Street. “It’s full of old souls who have been here for years.”
It’s the kind of town where people wave on the streets, she said, and share a hug in the grocery.