Gang suspicions surround murders

/*Eyewitness News*/ reporter Greg Barnes spoke with a nationally renowned gang expert about a possible /*gang*/ connection to the murders.

Expert Hunter Glass says photos of Lawrence Lovette Jr. on his and his friends' /*MySpace*/ Web sites paint a telling picture with hand gestures and gang colors.

"I would approach him as a gang member. See most kids if they are wearing that attire, 10 to one they are messing with street gangs," Glass said.

Glass also says the hooded sweatshirt and ball cap Lovette is seen wearing in the ATM /*surveillance photos*/, certainly reflects a gang connection.

"He had a /*Houston Astros*/'s hat on and the red five pointed star is synonymous with the /*Bloods*/. The Bloods use five pointed stars as one of their many symbols," he said.

Glass also says he recognized a gang symbol on the shirt Demario Atwater wore when he was arrested.

He says gang related crime in North Carolina and across the country is on the increase.

Late last year, /*Durham*/ officials documented nearly 1,000 gang members in 30 gangs. Police say gangs in Durham accounted for 10 percent of robberies in the first six months of last year and 14 percent of aggravated assaults.

Similar figures for /*Raleigh*/ and /*Fayetteville*/ were not available.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez will not say if Eve Carson's and Abhijit Mahato's murders were part of some gang ritual.

"At this point that's under investigation. I think the issue here is more the crime they did than the gang affiliation," Lopez said. "I don't glorify gangs in any way and I wouldn't give them credit for anything,"

Glass agrees, he does not think either murder was a sanctioned gang hit, but rather two violent crimes by suspected gang members.

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