Community ponders safety as jury selection begins for ‘Lake Boyz’ gang members

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Mug shots courtesy of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Jury selection began Monday for four members of the “Lake Boyz” gang who were arrested during a racketeering investigation in 2017.

James Brown, Kwameaine Brown, Diante Davis and Eric Fletcher are all alleged members of the gang.

Fort Myers Police Department raided the suspected Harlem Lakes neighborhood gang, netting almost two-dozen arrests in January of 2017.

MORE: Operation targeting ‘Lake Boyz’ gang nets 21 arrests

The judge split up the trials of accused men in March.

Now that the accused gang members are behind bars, is the community any safer?

Robert Shields has worked for years in the Harlem Lakes Neighborhood in Fort Myers.

He rides his bike to work everyday and details cars, but the violence in the community once prevented him from doing so.

“Back were it started, it was just chaos. Everybody running (trying to) get out the way dodging bullets,” Shields said. “Jumping in vehicles trying to get the hell out of here.”

Shields also spoke to gunfire in his apartment.

“Bullets come around here at my apartment were I stay at,” Shields said. “I got a bullet hole in my wall, a bullet hole in my door.”

In 2016, crime in Fort Myers was high, but as the streets were cleaned up, crime decreased, according to statistics from the Fort Myers Police Department.

“Then it was just young boys walking the street sometimes they get shot down from somebody coming from somewhere else,” said Fort Myers resident Eloise Battle.

People living in this community say cameras have helped put an end to the violence on this street that’s been plaguing them for years.

“Ain’t no crime in the neighborhood. You got cameras out here that we love,” Shields said. “The police ride through here and keep the crime down.”

Now people are enjoying the comfort outside their homes without the unpredictability that once shook this community.

“God got his blood over this hood and that’s the way it’s going to be till the end of time,” Shields said. “It’s like peaceful like a breath of wind.”

Officials say the criminal homicide rate in Fort Myers went down 20 percent from 2016 to 2017.

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