Investigator says young gang members aren't afraid to kill

There have been a

t least five murders in Robeson county in the past year and a half were gang related, Robeson County Sheriff Office's sole gang investigator Jose Hernandez

said Thursday.

He believes gang members are as young as eight years old and aren't afraid to kill.

"It is the rising face of crime. When we have a 12-year-old kid whose been charged with 13 felonies for breaking and entering because they have to bring money into the gang, I mean what's going on," said Hernandez.

He became the county's gang investigator in 2009 and says then there were 150 gang members.

Hernandez says now there are 64 gangs with more than 500 members.

Some of the gangs include United Blood Nation, Folk Nation and Mexican Mafia.

Gang members are killing their rivals and innocent people including Daquan Stephens, 16.

He was shot several times at a basketball court in Fairmont in March.

"Daquan Stephens


he was an innocent victim as far as what I'm hearing on the street. He was an innocent victim who unfortunately a parent had to bury. He's not the only one there's been others."

Hernandez adds the murder of Lumberton police officerJeremiah Goodson last July had gang ties.

Robeson County gang members' crimes are reaching into the Grand Strand and Pee Dee

, according to Hernandez

"We've had gang members go to Myrtle Beach and commit murder because it started here and vice versa."

He's emailed lawmakers in effort to try and get help as the county's only gang investigator.

Hernandez says he hasn't gotten the response he hoped to receive, but he isn't going to give up.

He's determined to reach as many schools, churches, community leaders, and lawmakers in effort to save children before they enter the world of gangs.

"I'd rather save these kids than arrest them. Arresting gang members is only a temporary fix for the communities."

He's hoping Robeson County will find the money to one

day hire another gang investigator.