How "Foreign 695" gang members responsible for crimes evade punishment

The window of the Phyllis Wheatley Library on Ford Street was shot in a drive by shooting that may be linked to "Foreign 695." Gang members as young as 13 years old know how to game the court system. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - The drive-by shooting that destroyed a window at a Rochester library last week may be linked to a gang that calls itself "Foreign 695."

13 WHAM News first reported last week how the gang which operates out of the Clinton Section of the city is responsible for stealing cars in Penfield, Gates, Henrietta and Gates - then using the vehicles to commit other crimes.

"People are getting hurt and if you think it's just the city you're wrong," Monroe County Deputy Attorney Paul Irving said.

A series of YouTube videos feature gang members with guns and money as they rap about crime, showing they boldly believe they have nothing to hide. One of them has been arrested four times over six months. Another has five arrests in seven months.

They are as young as 13 years old and know how to game the system.

"Police are frustrated and we're frustrated," said Irving, who adjudicates cases involving juvenile offenders in family court.

Rochester Police say a teenager in one of the videos is connected to two stolen cars - one of which was taken in Henrietta and used in a drive-by shooting. Yet he was released by a family court judge each time.

Eventually the teen was picked up again - also in a stolen vehicle.

"They keep getting released over our objection," Irving said. "I had one individual charged with a stolen car on a Friday afternoon. He had been released and by Monday was in another stolen car."

Last week, 16-year-old Lorenzo Blake was arrested for stealing a car in Penfield, driving it to the University of Rochester Riverview apartments and robbing a student. The student was also punched in the face. Blake is a member of Foreign 695 and it was clear in court that he already had juvenile cases pending.

"That's why they think they can get away with this," Irving said.

Investigators believe the shooting outside the Phyllis Wheatley Public Library on Ford Street may have been targeting seven people standing outside. No one was injured and there have been no arrests. The vehicle was not recovered, so it's unclear whether it was stolen.

Ray Mayoliz runs Pathways to Peace - an organization with boots on the ground which tries to intervene with street gangs to prevent disputes. He declined to comment on Foreign 695 but said gangs take to social media for a specific reason.

"They're doing videos in front of a school or neighborhood or store - places they hang out," Mayoliz said. "They're telling people, 'If you want to challenge us, come here - this is where we are.' It has complicated things ten-fold."

In one of the videos, the gang member featured in the video turns to expose the back of his t-shirt. There are a list of the names of fellow members who have been sent to juvenile detention. After being involved in a third vehicle theft, he can add his own name. He is being held for one year.

The maximum sentence for a juvenile accused of a felony is 18 months.

"This isn't just kids stealing candy bars or taking a car for a joy ride," Irving said. "These guys are pretty vicious and committing serious crimes."

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