- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2011

Four teens who were among 13 people charged as members of warring Southeast street gangs that ambushed and killed their rivals were at the time of their crimes in the custody of the city’s juvenile justice agency, The Washington Times has learned.

Prosecutors announced last week they had charged four members of the “Avenue,” a gang that took its name from an area in Benning Terrace west of 46th Street Southeast, with conspiring to assault members of the “Circle,” whose members took their name from a cul-de-sac in the neighborhood. Nine members of the Circle also were charged. The charges include conspiracy, assault with intent to kill, gun possession and murder.

Lamonte Henson, known as Tiggy, 19; Marcellus McCray, 17, known as Mateo; Raymond Davis, 18, known as Soldier Boy; and Curtis Faison, 19, were in the custody of the District’s troubled Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), according to sources at the agency.

The sources also said that Antonio Fortson, 19, known as T.O.; and Anthony Hebron, 17, known as Peanut, were in the process of being committed to the agency’s custody.

Authorities say the teens were part of gangs responsible for several shootouts since July 2009.

DYRS officials did not return calls for comment.

The tit-for-tat violence escalated April 10, 2010, when authorities say Faison fatally shot Melvin White, 27. Authorities say Fortson and another man associated with the Circle fired several shots at individuals they associated with the Avenue.

On May 14, Davis and two other members of the Avenue shot a rival gang member, according to the charging papers.

Just more than two weeks later, a firefight between the two groups on May 30 that involved McCray, Henson, Davis, Fortson and Hebron, among others, resulted in the death of Antwan Buckner, 32.

The charges were announced Wednesday, the same day Mayor Vincent C. Gray nominated interim DYRS Director Neil Stanley to the job on a permanent basis. Mr. Stanley had served as the agency’s general counsel since September 2008.

Mr. Stanley said during the news conference announcing his nomination that the agency was “very committed to public safety” in outlining some of the progress DYRS has made.

“The mayor has made very clear that his priority for this agency is community supervision,” he said. “And so we have created a high-intensity unit that is looking very specifically at young people who are serious offenders, repeat offenders, and we’re tracking in real time what is going on.”

In a recent series of articles, The Times explored youth violence in the District and found that DYRS has been plagued by a pattern of crimes committed by and against youths under the agency’s supervision.

Mr. Gray at the time said the agency was in need of an “overhaul.”

• Jeffrey Anderson can be reached at jmanderson@washingtontimes.com.

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