Experts, Friends Of Victims Say Murders Not Gang-Related

By Dina Kaplan

(LOUISVILLE, April 9th, 2004, 6:30 p.m.) -- In the past two weeks, there have been nine murders in Louisville. Now a makeshift memorial for the most recent victim is raising questions about whether these killings are gang-related. WAVE 3's Dina Kaplan reports.

Louisville's most recent homicide victim, 26-year-old Daryl Grider, is honored by a makeshift memorial at the Clarksdale housing project. It has red stuffed animals, red flowers, red bandanas, and red candles.

His friends insist the color red has nothing to do with gang colors. "That's just what he likes to wear, that's just him, that's his favorite color," says Michelle Porter, a friend of Grider's.

Another friend, April Stallworth, insists Grider's death was not the result of gang violence. "If that's the color they like, that's cool. But, really gang-types of situations, that was like over in back in '90. Period."

Louisville Metro Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley does admit that the color red has long been associated gang activities, but stopped short of saying it has anything to do with a gang calling itself the "Bloods" around Clarksdale. "True enough, that has been associated with gang activity in other places, but we don't know necessarily that that's what's occurring at this point."

Police are now investigating whether any of the nine recent murders in the city are gang-related. "It's possible," says Ministerial Coalition President Rev. Clay Calloway. "I know many people have assigned red to a certain gang color, blue to a gang color."

The Ministerial Coalition is working to fight violence in Louisville. He agreed with the young people in Clarksdale we spoke with who said the colors red and blue aren't owned by gangs. "That coincidentally also happens to be the colors of the Louisville Cardinals and the Kentucky Wildcats."

So how to explain nine homicides in Louisville in the past 15 days?

Stallworth talked about the need for respect in the areas where violence has been occurring, along with the dangers of jealousy. "You shouldn't have to lose your life, you know, because somebody thinks your shoes is better than their shoes and they want your shoes."

UofL Professor and Criminologist Dr. Price Foster agrees. "There's not any evidence that gangs are involved in any of this." He says the bloodshed may be nothing more than a series of independent events caused by human emotions as basic as jealousy.

"It's probably caused by drugs and girlfriends," Price says. "It might be a combination of those events."

The Ministerial Coalition has created a group called "No Murders Metro" that plans to hold prayer vigils at the scene of each homicide one week after the crime.

The group has been busy these days. Its next meeting is Saturday on Marshall Court.

Online Reporter: Dina Kaplan

Online Producer: Michael Dever