- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2004

A Fairfax County teenager yesterday had both his hands cut off with a machete in an attack in Alexandria that police attributed to gang rivalry.

The 16-year-old was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where surgeons reattached one hand and part of the other. The boy lost four fingers in the attack.

A police spokesman said they did not know whether the boy would be able to use his hands and would not say whether the victim would remain at Inova.

“We’re not saying where [the victim] is, for his own protection,” said Officer Bud Walker, a spokesman for the Fairfax County Police Department.

The machete attack occurred about 1 a.m. yesterday in the 6400 block of Edsall Road.

Fairfax County Police declined to name the gangs thought to be involved and would not comment on a motive, saying they did not want to compromise their investigation.

“The detectives have some active leads they are pursuing,” Officer Walker said.

A spokesman for state Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore said the attack underscores the growing problem of gang violence.

“This looks like the type of crime that is intended to send a message,” said Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh. “The community has to send a message back that says, ‘We’re not going to take this.’”

Fairfax County Police have estimated that there are 4,300 gang members in 53 gangs in Northern Virginia, including 1,131 with known addresses in the county.

Fairfax has operated a gang task force for the past seven years, and the county has led a Northern Virginia Gang Task Force for the past six years. In the past year, a task force in the 10th Congressional District and a statewide gang task force have been created.

Mr. Kilgore created the statewide task force, largely to help him develop legislation to give law enforcement more tools to combat gangs, Mr. Murtaugh said.

Several laws that will make it easier to arrest gang members, seize their property and assets, make arrests for gang recruitment and deport illegal immigrants will take effect July 1.

The 10th Congressional District Gang Task Force was formed after Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, helped secure $500,000 in federal funds to pay for the task force. An additional $1 million has been obtained for fiscal 2005, which will enable the task force to add three or four detectives to its seven, said the task force’s director, Herndon Police Chief Toussaint E. Summers Jr.

By February, the task force had made more than 200 arrests in gang-related cases and had turned over 47 of the people arrested to the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.

Mr. Murtaugh said although law enforcement is needed, antigang efforts also must be directed at young children.

“Kids have to be taught that there is absolutely no hope in joining a gang. It can only lead to one thing, and that’s trouble,” he said.

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