PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The video surveillance shows members of one gang snaking their way through the aisles of a local Walmart, hunting a member of a rival gang in 2016.
Moments later, and streets away, gunfire erupted. One of the members of the rival gang was shot multiple times but survived. Later that same night several gang members spotted a white SUV they thought contained members of a warring faction.
Inside the car, according to court documents, was “a young mother who had just dropped off her children.”
She wasn’t hit but her car was riddled with bullet holes, according to an evidence photo that was shown during a day-long sentencing hearing at Rhode Island U.S. District Court in Providence on Thursday.
In all, four members of the so-called Chad Brown gang — or as investigators say they refer to themselves, the “Chad Brown Killers” — were sentenced after pleading guilty to multiple counts that they ran the crew as an ongoing criminal operation.
Delacey Andrade was sentenced to 11 years; Kendrick Johnson was sentenced to six years; Keshawn Johnson was sentenced to 12 years; and Montrel Johnson was sentenced to seven years.
Among the counts was the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act, which was designed last century to dismantle the Mafia. State and federal prosecutors leveled it against the four gang members in an effort to weaken the Chad Brown gang.
U.S. District Chief Judge John McConnell, who sentenced the four men, said he decided to go with heavier sentences in most cases to try and send a message of deterrence to any members of the public interested in gun violence — but also for the defendants’ own safety.
“The truth, Mr. Andrade, is I am sentencing you to 11 years and not nine because it is going to keep you alive for another two years,” McConnell said during an impassionate speech about how Rhode Islanders are sick of reading about gun violence.
“The only way I can keep you alive is to lock you up,” he added.
Veteran Providence Police Detective Sergeant Timothy McGann took the stand earlier in the day, telling the judge the Chad Brown gang has been at war with the East Side crew since 2005. In 2013, McGann said the violence increased dramatically as the two sides took aim at each other, often committing murder, some of which remain unsolved.
The gangs both used social media, particularly Facebook, to egg each other on and mock the other gang when a member was gunned down. The retaliation was intense, McGann said.
“There is history there on both sides with a lot of grievances with all parties involved,” McGann said. “There is no end to it.”
He described the ongoing war as “multigenerational” and one that prosecutors said it put innocent members of the public at risk with a “vigilante justice system imposed and administered by themselves.”
During the sentencing, prosecutors showed video of Andrade urinating on the grave of an East Side member who had been murdered.
“This is uncivilized, this is wrong, this is inhuman,” McConnell said about the gun violence.
This article was modified from the original to note a person was shot following the incident at the Walmart.