Now, newly unsealed court documents clear up some of the murkiness surrounding the shootings and what Fairfax County police believe prompted them.
Crews identified as “Mob 4 Life” and “Ben Block” were behind the three July incidents, which stemmed from a long-standing feud between the gangs, according to a pair of search warrants filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court.
Fairfax County police have identified suspects in two of the shootings, including one who is an aspiring rapper. He appears in a number of videos on YouTube that feature guns, money and lyrics that extol violence. The Washington Post is not naming either suspect because they have not been charged with crimes.
To date, police said they have not made any arrests in connection with the shootings and said they need more help from the public. Citing a policy of not naming or giving gangs publicity, Fairfax County police Lt. Stephen R. Wallace declined to discuss either crew or the nature of the alleged disagreement between them.
“We don’t have many people coming forward, so it’s been a difficult case,” Wallace said.
There is little public information about the crews. It’s unclear if the alleged gangs have been tied to other crimes or if they have affiliations with larger gangs such as the Bloods or Crips. Police believe the alleged gangs are active in Fairfax County and neighboring Alexandria.
The violence shocked Fairfax County residents when it unfolded in the opening days of July and prompted a handful of community meetings that were well attended.
The first shooting occurred shortly after 11 p.m. on July 1 at a playground on Fordson Court in the Gum Springs area. Two high school students suffered non-life-threatening injuries in a shooting that left behind 29 shell casings, police said.
The next day, two masked gunmen leaped from a black car and unleashed a barrage of gunfire in the parking lot of a strip mall, where Midieast Studios is located in the Rose Hill area. The targets fired back before both cars sped off. The incident, which occurred in the middle of the day, was recorded by surveillance cameras. Three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the shooting.
The final shooting occurred late on July 3, police said. A man was grazed by a bullet at the same Gum Springs playground where the first shooting occurred. Wallace said there has not been any related violence since that last incident.
Wilfredo Torres, the manager of Midieast Studios, said he remains mystified by authorities connecting the shootings to his studio. He said he did not know the suspects or the crews allegedly involved.
“I’ve never heard of these gangs,” Torres said.