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Police charge Fairfax teens with gang hazing, 'beat-in' initiations

When does a teenage fight rise to fledgling gang activity? When it involves attempted recruitment through a MySpace page and in "beat-in" initiations, according to the Fairfax Police.

That was the department's contention Wednesday when it announced charges against three boys from Poe Middle School in Annandale. The charge, hazing of youth gang members, is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Two 14-year-old boys and another, 13, were charged Tuesday.

Police contend that the boys are the leaders of a nascent gang of about a dozen boys in the same age range that used "WOB" as a symbol and gray and black as its colors, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.

Police officers assigned to Poe worked with school officials after symbols and writings were noticed in notebooks and on backpacks at the school after summer break, Caldwell said.

Police learned some students were using a MySpace page to allegedly recruit other members, she said. In November, officers learned of "beat-ins" at a party in Annandale off of school grounds and were able to identify the reputed gang leaders, police said.

When an investigation convinced police that the alleged beatings were part of an attempt to form a new gang, Caldwell said, they acted. "Our school resource officers are a vital link and once they were alerted that students were being pressured to join and being beaten up, they investigated," said Caldwell.

Charging students "lets them know we will nip this in the bud," she added.

Paul Regnier, spokesman for Fairfax County Schools, said student privacy protections prohibit his discussing suspensions or expulsions. Regnier said the schools "have taken appropriate action" in the wake of the police case.

-- Mary Pat Flaherty

By Mary Pat Flaherty  |  January 20, 2010; 2:22 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Gangs , Mary Pat Flaherty  
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