MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Police say they bring crime, stolen weapons, drugs and bloodshed. Now more of these accused out-of-town gang members are moving here to middle Tennessee and not just to the big cities.
The six suspects recently booked into the Rutherford County jail are likely affiliated with gangs and prosecutors say may be the tip of the iceberg and partially responsible for the drug trade and recent wave of violence to hit the city.
"If people want to come here and cause trouble we'll do our best to put them in jail," said Rutherford County District Attorney Jennings Jones.
He points to the six suspects now jailed after their arrests at a Murfreeboro apartment complex.
Police with the gang and special operations unit served a warrant and found drugs and guns ... all thanks to a tip from a brave citizen.
"Some witnesses in the community are reluctant to talk about crime. They don't want to talk about it and that makes it more difficult to prosecute," said General Jones.
But now it seems more witnesses are willing to talk especially those in and around apartment complexes near MTSU which saw a spike in violence over the past six to eight months.
"Every weekend it seemed there was a shooting or stabbing or some other form of trouble," said Jones.
But a program started late last year by mayor Shane McFarland is making a difference by sending police officers to work with apartment managers toward safety.
"What we're trying to do is have the relationships to where we have dedicated officers working with those complexes," said McFarland in December.
Combine that with some dogged prosecution and General Jones said things are changing for the better.
He said many of the troublemakers come from bigger cities with plans to set up shop in Murfreeboro, but if they do they're going to find they are quite unwelcome -- especially now.
With these most recent arrests, prosecutors do see a reduction in the type of violent crime they've seen in recent months and they say there will be more arrests to come.
General Jones said there does seem to be a trend of alleged gang members migrating to Murfreesboro from the Memphis area.
Four of the six suspects just arrested are from Memphis. All six deny gang affiliation or owning the guns and drugs found in the apartment. They'll tell it to a judge later this summer.