The Frontier

The feud began on Christmas Eve 2012, with a gambling debt ending in a gun death. Police say the warring between Tulsa gangs since that night has continued into this month, with the most recent casualty on July 2, when a 28-year-old man was slain outside a north Tulsa car wash.

The Hoover Crips, the city’s largest gang, are currently feuding with members of three other gangs: the Five-Tre Crips, the Neighborhood Crips and the Bloods, Sgt. Sean Larkin said Wednesday.

Larkin heads the Tulsa Police Department’s Gang Unit.

The three recent shootings — Thursday’s killing of 28-year-old Elon Shaw outside of Suds N Go car wash near Apache Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and nonfatal shootings Sunday and Monday near the 400 block of East Latimer Court — are part of a now years-long conflict stemming from the Dec. 24, 2012, killing of Shawn Montrel Banks, Larkin said.

Elon Shaw. Courtesy

Elon Shaw. Courtesy

Two men were charged with killing Banks — Larkin said Banks had lost the rifle gambling — but the charges were later dropped when prosecutors realized state witnesses were going to give testimony inconsistent with statements they had previously given police.

Banks’ murder, Larkin said, caused a rift between gangs that had previously not been at odds.

“The thing is, Five-Tre and Hoover (Crips) used to be cool (with each other),” Larkin said. “When Banks’ murder happened, it separated them.

“The Banks family is historically Hoover, but Banks was hanging out with the Five-Tre guys. When he was shot and killed, that split the two groups up.”

The Five-Tre Crips are one of the smaller Crip sets in Tulsa, Larkin said, and base their name off their geography (most live in the area of 53rd Street North.)

Larkin said the feud has stayed relatively low-key, with mostly cars and homes being shot up. But another killing, the shooting death last October of Kenneth McNack in the 700 block of East 32nd Place North, was a direct result of Banks’ death.

McNack was a Hoover Crip, Larkin said, and rumor on the streets was that he was likely killed by members of Five-Tre and the Bloods.

In another recent incident, feuding gang members drew weapons on each other outside the Big Splash water park.

“It’s a cycle, where it goes up and down,” Larkin said. “There will be a lot of tit-for-tat stuff, and then it blows up. Sometimes the uptick comes when someone gets out of prison. They come home and they get a little more street cred, and they get these younger guys hyped up.”

Younger gang members are more likely to be involved in gun violence, Larkin said.

“The younger guys are more easily manipulated,” he said. “Older guys can convince them that if they do the shooting, they’ll get more status in the gang. A lot of (the ones who get involved in violence) are still teenagers.”

Larkin said Gang Unit members have 13 search warrants on different residences since the Shaw shooting last Thursday, and have recovered a number of firearms. As important, he said, is that police have interviewed a number of people who have spoken about other incidents that have gone unreported to police, giving officers a fuller view of the feud.

“Our best case scenario is that we catch someone dirty,” Larkin said. “Someone that has dope or a firearm, and we get a charge on them and get them to cooperate and help us solve one of these shootings or homicides.

“Things will slow down if we keep kicking on doors, or we get someone involved in the violence on an unrelated charge and it stops the violence.”