SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Following a Sunday night shooting in North Springfield, the Greene County Sheriff’s office shared gang-related activity is on the rise.

“We’re a good marketplace for drugs, and it seems like drugs and guns go hand in hand,” Sheriff Jim Arnott said. “Street gangs and other types of gangs have figured out that it’s a good marketplace. We’ve had a lot of those members move here from other cities and it’s just kind of grown.”

Arnott said the uptick in gang activity has also involved more teenagers.

“12 years old to 18 years old, are getting involved and recruited in by older gang members and we’ve seen them take off with that,” Arnott said. “Some of them are from Kansas City, other areas, but a lot of them are locals that just get connected with this.”

The sheriff’s office said the type of activity is consistent with violent crime.

“A lot of them have stolen firearms, some have borrowed firearms,” Arnott said. “We have innocent people shot or shot at drive-by shootings which are seem to be more frequent and you know, they’re not they’re not a good aim.”

Springfield police said an 18-year-old was shot in what the department is calling a mutual gunfight.

“If they were on the street that we were on, which was not even a block away, it it would have been really bad because, you know, like, they’re probably not thinking of where they’re shooting,” Taylor Wehrenberg said.

Wehrenberg was at Drury University’s campus when she saw a white car involved in the shooting drive by.

“I hear bangs and I’m like, maybe it’s just backfiring, but it didn’t sound like a regular car backfiring,” Wehrenberg said. “We see the police officers blocking off the whole road and the white car in a ditch. I was kind of just in shock that I was so close to something like that, cause I’ve never been really close to like a gun before or, like, hearing that.”

Unlike other cities in the region and nation, Springfield does not have the random violence associated with one or more organized gangs involved in crime. We are experiencing an increase in individuals or loosely connected thugs, both juveniles and young adults, who use firearms to commit crimes or settle disputes (usually among themselves). We are actively investigating multiple violent crime incidents involving these individuals, many of whom are not Springfield residents.”

Police Chief Paul Williams

Over the last year, Arnott said his team has worked closely with the prosecutor’s office and the juvenile office to hold those responsible, including indictments.

“In the last month, we’ve recovered over 12 guns in gang activity, meaning criminal gang activity,” Arnott said. “Our joint partnership with the prosecutor’s office and the juvenile office were able to get stricter guidelines and stricter punishment done on these to keep these dangerous people off the street.”

Arnott said the sheriff’s office also needs the public’s help in reducing gang activity.

“We’ve had several tips over the last few weeks that have come in and has prevented a crime because we had the intelligence information to go after the bad guy before they committed the crimes,” Arnott said.

As of Monday evening, Springfield Police said no arrests were made in connection with the shooting on North Clay Avenue.