Syracuse man admits role in gang behind violence, drugs in Syracuse

A 27-year-old Syracuse man admits his role in a gang that prosecutors say has been behind violence and drug trafficking in the city for more than a decade.

Shawntell Rush, also known as "Sparks" and "Tells," pleaded guilty in federal court to his involvement in the Bricktown Gang. Twelve others are charged with conspiring to exploit their membership in the gang to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity which included multiple acts of murder, drug trafficking and robbery.

Federal prosecutors say the gang has been operating in Syracuse since at least 2000. They say the gang members are behind two murders, 8 other shoots, 7 acts of gun possession, 2 instances of knife violence and 12 acts of crack distribution and/or possession with intent to distribute crack.

The indictment includes allegations that gang members killed innocent victims on two different occasions and sought retaliation against rival gang members.

One case involves the senseless murder of 20-month-old Rashad Walker Jr. He was shot and killed along the 300 block of Coolidge Avenue. The little boy was sitting in his car seat with his mother by his side when his life ended tragically. 21-year-old Saquan Evans is charged with Walker Jr.'s murder.

The other murder happened in September of 2007. Prosecutors say Bricktown Gang members Jarrell Williams and Ernest Hester killed Anthony Ford along the 1600 block of East Fayette Street. A woman who was with him was shot in the head but survived.

Rush is scheduled to be sentenced in November. He faces up to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release.

The charges against the other 12 is still pending.

Have you seen a difference in crime since police and prosecutors started cracking down on gang violence? What more needs to be done to rid Syracuse of these gangs? Leave your thoughts below.