CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Eight gang members have been arrested in connection with several robberies and violent acts around University of Cincinnati's campus.
The Cincinnati Police Department announced Thursday that 12 cases were cleared through the collaborative investigation involving districts 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Officials say that, while shootings are down 16 percent citywide, the 2GG (2 Gun Gang) members were responsible for seven of the worst crimes committed near UC's campus.
"I think it's frightening," said UC student Robert Ipach. "I had no idea that something that large and organized would be around here. I just thought it was, you know, pick pockets and more individual crimes."
Arrested suspects include Christian Wright, 19, of Hamersville, Mikeyah Walton, 18, of Union Township, Jerymer Melendez of Cincinnati, 19, and five juveniles between the ages of 15 and 17. Each of the suspects was charged for aggravated robbery. Additionally, some of the suspects were charged with carrying a concealed weapon, tampering with evidence, and receiving stolen property.
Two of the suspects were caught after trying to rob a UC security guard, a certified Ohio peace officer. The guard had a concealed gun on him and fired shots at the robbers, who later showed up to local hospitals with gunshot wounds.
"We will continue to be aggressive with those who commit crimes and those who associate with known criminals," said Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell. "Thanks to the diligence of our officers we were able to track these known criminals plaguing our neighborhoods. We appreciate the many community collaborations and the work of our law enforcement partners that helped with this investigation."
UC's student body president Christina Beer also said the arrests came as welcome news.
"Thank you is something that hasn't been said today," she said. "As a student this is a big sigh of relief and makes us feel safe. It's phenomenal to have this closure with everything going on campus. Students appreciate the work of UC police and CPD officers."
According to UC Police, the suspects admitted to targeting robberies around campus because they believed students were likely to possess cash and electronics, and they often walk alone at night, making them easy targets.
A UC student reported Thursday that she was robbed Wednesday night. The student told police that she was walking on Rohs Street when she was knocked to the ground from behind and her purse was taken. It is unknown if this crime is related to the gang.
Three weeks ago, Caleb Faux was standing outside his Hyde Park home just minding his business.
"This car comes by, passes me and I didn't think much of it," said Faux.
That car turned around and stopped at stop sign at the corner of Linwood Avenue and Cryer Avenue and someone got out.
"A couple seconds later, a guy runs out of the car and runs right at me with a long-barreled revolver, sticks it in my face," said Faux.
What Faux first thought was a joke quickly became a reality when another armed suspect hopped out of the car.
"He was a little more serious. He said, 'Give us your wallet or we'll shoot you.' At that point, you're not going to argue," Faux told FOX19 NOW.
The suspects in that case are also presumed to be a part of the 2 Gun Gang.
"It is not a neighborhood-based gang. They were going around two and three people in a car, sometimes with two crews in two cars, and robbing targets of opportunity throughout the city of Cincinnati," said Capt. Dan Gerard, commander of Cincinnati Police Department's District 3.
As widespread as the crime, the gang's presence on social media is also vast. A video given to FOX19 NOW by police shows one of the suspected members showing off a handgun. Police say there is a threat to another street gang included in that video, one they've got another ongoing feud with. The young man holding the gun in the video is one of the people Faux believes to have robbed him.
"If you have an active feud with another street gang that's out there, in their case it was Skep Bands, you want to prove to Skep Bands that you're not people that you want to come and you want to take advantage of," said Gerard.
During the robbery, Faux gave up his wallet, spoke no words and the suspects took off with $45.
"The mind-boggling thing about it is that these kids are standing here and, kind of, throwing their lives away for 45 bucks," said Faux.