Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said Wednesday that 23-year-old Augustus Simmons of Brooklyn, N.Y., moved to Norristown to start a local branch of the Bloods gang.
She says the group known as "Gangsta Killer Blood" began a crime spree that included firebombing three Norristown homes between November and March.
According to the D.A.:
-On November 30, 2010, gang members allegedly firebombed an occupied home in the 500 block of Stanbridge Street in Norristown. The residents managed to escape but the house suffered extensive damage.
-On December 2, 2010, gang members allegedly firebombed an occupied house in the 1000 block of Stanbridge. This fire quickly spread to adjacent homes. The fire caused serious bodily injuries and extensive damage to the occupied homes in entire block.
-On March 25, 2011, gang members firebombed an occupied home in the 700 block of George Street in Norristown. The homeowner in this fire was able to quickly extinguish it.
Diamond Rose remembers the Molotov cocktail that hit his neighbor's porch like it happened yesterday.In December, the fire damaged 10 row homes and caused serious injuries on the 1000 block of Stanbridge Street in Norristown. "As soon as I opened the door, I said, 'fire, fire get up', and I ran upstairs trying to get my kids out that house," said Diamond Rose. "These gang members across the country are urban terrorists. These are the kind of people who use fear and terror to inspire fear in the community," said Ferman. Simmons and nine of his alleged fellow gang members, including two juveniles have been locked up for the crimes. Rose and Cheryl Federico have had to pay $1,000 so far to fix the damage to their house. "I'm glad something was happening. Hopefully it will help clear up some of the crime, I know it's not going to cover everything," said Federico. Several homes on this block are still in the middle of repairs after that firebomb. Police believe there are more gang members out there ready to wreak havoc, which is why residents are still afraid for their properties and their lives. Ferman says the local gang has been crippled after the six month long investigation and the take down of the suspects. "When they are allowed to grow and infest the community, once that happens, the community sometimes can never come back," says Ferman. The other alleged gang members were identified as: Emmett Pearson, Anthony Knight, Amber Lucas and Leon Lobban all of Norristown; Steven Freas and Jason Freas of Plymouth; and Arienne Hernandez of Lower Providence.
The DA says two juveniles were also identified as members of the gang and have been petitioned in juvenile court for their involvement in the crimes.
Simmons and the others who were arrested are being held on several charges including attempted murder, arson, aggravated assault, robbery and witness intimidation.
RELATED: Previous report about the fires
A listed number for Simmons could not be found Wednesday and it was unclear whether he had an attorney.