An ongoing feud between two rival self-described gangs has been responsible for 36 known shootings, including a March fatal shooting on West Eighth Street, according to court documents filed in the West Eighth Street murder case.
An assistant commonwealth's attorney also told Daviess Circuit Judge Jay Wethington there is a possible connection between the gang feud and last summer's shooting at a party in Whitesville that left two teens dead and a third teen injured.
According to court records in the case of Damartez D. Thruston, the 36 shootings have all involved members of the "Bloods" and "Gangster Disciples" groups, and have involved shootings into homes and targeting of individual gang members. The shootings all took place between March 2018 and March 2019.
Details of the conflict came out Tuesday morning during a bond hearing on the Thruston case. Thruston is charged with murder in the March 13 death of Kevin D. White, 33, of Hopkinsville, who was fatally shot when someone fired through the window of a home in the 800 block of West Eighth Street.
While there are nationally known gangs called the Bloods and Gangster Disciples, it is not known if those groups have any connection to people in Owensboro calling themselves by those names.
"There was some talk about possible gang affiliations that we weren't able to confirm," said Officer Andrew Boggess, public information officer for the Owensboro Police Department.
The records in Thruston's file list shooting incidents where people involved are "known Blood" or "known GD." The incidents detail a cycle of violence and retaliation that included firing into homes, shots fired at specific people and shots fired at vehicles.
For example, an April 12, 2018 incident where a woman sitting in a vehicle was shot in the arm is believed to have been "an ambush in retaliation" of a shooting that occurred earlier in the day. The woman was not the intended target in the shooting, which is believed to have been instigated by five men claiming affiliation with the Bloods who were targeting two self-described Gangster Disciples, court records say.
Victims were shot in at least six of the 36 incidents, including the March shooting on West Eighth Street that killed Kevin White. In that case, White was not believed to be the intended target but was at the home that attorneys described as being known for gambling and drug purchases.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Quattrocchi told Daviess Circuit Judge Jay Wethington that the June 1 killing of Jasper Brown and Amarius Winstead in Whitesville is suspected to have been part of the ongoing conflict because Brown and Tyler Glover, who was also injured in that shooting, were known as members of the Bloods.
Detective Jared Spurrier of the Daviess County Sheriff's Department said, "I've heard lots of rumors of them belonging to different clubs or gangs," but detectives have no direct evidence that gang activity was involved in the Whitesville shooting.
Sheriff's department officials have said previously they believe Chase Allen Simmons, 18, of the 3900 block of Kentucky 144, who has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of second-degree assault in the Whitesville shootings, had a feud with Brown, and that Brown was the intended target.
In court, Quattrocchi said "there have been ... investigations of 36 known shootings between Bloods as well as Gangster Disciples."
"I've got three or four new murder cases because of this conflict I have to adjudicate," Wethington said in court Tuesday morning. Wethington is hearing the case against Chase Simmons as well as the West Eighth Street case, where Thruston and Talen M. Johnson, 19, of the 700 block of Walnut Street, were both charged with murder.
Quattrocchi declined to comment after the hearing, saying the case was still under investigation. Boggess also said OPD could not comment on the case for the same reason.
Wethington denied a defense motion to reduce Thruston's bond, saying doing so would potentially create a public danger.
"He can't be adequately supervised," Wethington said, adding that he had to also consider the danger releasing Thruston would pose to potential witnesses in the murder case, and the possibility that Thruston would be in danger as well.
Thruston will next be in court on March 25.
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @JamesMayse