Assailant Had Tattoo Of Gang, Police Say
"This is nothing new," Smith said. "MS commits crimes every day. We've been dealing with this for years."
Another MS member with a forehead tattoo, Marvin Campos, was successfully prosecuted in Fairfax in 2000 for his role in recruiting and supervising a 14-year-old MS gang member who stabbed a man to death that summer. The youth, serving a 23-year prison sentence, is now covered with MS tattoos.
Smith said poverty or lack of education, which make gangs more attractive elsewhere, are unlikely causes of gang affiliation in Fairfax, one of the nation's wealthiest counties. He attributed it to the marketing of gangster culture, through music, clothes and language, as the hip route for rebellious youngsters. "I think it's become almost fadlike," Smith said. He urged parents to become more knowledgeable about their teenagers' lives.
Police believe Sandoval claimed loyalty to the gang 18th Street, but his family could not be located yesterday to confirm or deny that. A 16-year-old, who declined to be identified because he feared gang retaliation, said he was one of Sandoval's best friends. Their families would get together at a park on Sundays for hamburgers and hot dogs and play volleyball and basketball.
He said Sandoval's "mother is really hurting. She didn't even want to talk to my mom," the youth said.
"He was a nice person, wouldn't get in any trouble and practically had no enemies. He was tight," he said. "I don't think he was involved in a gang. Maybe [the assailant] got confused or something." Sandoval wanted to be an artist when he grew up, the friend said.
Staff writer Elaine Rivera contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
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