Police: Gang members used game before crimes

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - December 14, 2010

The incident was caught on tape in Bethlehem, Pa.

The suspects are part of the Los Angeles-based street gang known as the Bloods. What makes this video so valuable is that it led investigators directly to their local hideout on the 500 block of Hayes Street.

Police say they found gaming systems, clothes, cash along with weapons and drugs inside that hideout.

"The individuals who were involved in this have led to numerous felonies that were committed over months involving individuals who are in this Bloods gang," said Commissioner Stuard Bedics of the Bethlehem Police Department.

The three teens are accused of mugging a Lehigh University student just moments earlier.

It turns out the suspect who is seen on tape hiding behind the car is allegedly18-year-old Michael Prater, a former basketball star from Freedom High School in Bethlehem.

Even more disturbing is that the other male suspect seen is 15 years old. The female suspect is only 14.

"On this evening, when the robbery was committed, the suspects involved actually played a game of 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' to see who was going to commit this robbery," Bedics said.

Northampton County DA John Morganelli says the Bloods purposely seek younger recruits.

The reason - if a 15-year-old, for example, gets caught robbing a house, he or she can usually get off with a lighter sentence and get back on the street to rob again.

But Nothampton County D.A. John Morganelli says that's not going to work this time.

"What we have here is a bunch of young, thug criminals that want to be big-time gang members, so we're going to treat them like big-time gang members as the law permits us to do so," said Morganelli.

So far, approximately half a dozen arrests have been made, but Bethlehem Police are still looking for several other Bloods members in the city.

That has Lehigh University students on edge.

"Walking around I feel a little bit nervous, like 'Are the police around? Are they making efforts to keep us safe?" said student Adrienne LaFleur.

Anyone with information regarding the gang activity in Bethlehem is urged to contact the Bethlehem Police Department.

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