NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Did Gideon's Army, in its efforts to cultivate a prominent gang figure, ignore major warning signs that would ultimately lead to more violence?
That's the latest question raised by a NewsChannel 5 investigation into the taxpayer-funded non-violence group.
NewsChannel 5's questions about mistakes made -- Gideon's Army refuses to acknowledge any such mistakes -- began with the murder of a little girl.
A 911 call captured a mother’s anguish and a child’s trauma.
Back in April, a hail of gunfire shattered the night of Nashville’s Cumberland View housing projects, an area known as Dodge City.
Three-year-old Jamayla Marlowe was one of three people caught in the crossfire.
Jamayla never made it home.
“I left my baby at the hospital in the morgue," said her great-grandfather, Earl Jones.
"That is not right for a 3-year-old to be in the morgue at this age, because she was an innocent baby.”
Watch part one of this story in the video player above and part two below:
It came on the second night of grief in the neighborhood over the shooting death of a local gang figure.
Video from social media shows a vigil the night before that had erupted into a gun-waving celebration of life.
The deceased man, Cleveland Shaw, was a paid employee of the non-violence group Gideon’s Army.
"What we do," explained Gideon's Army CEO Rasheedat Fetuga, "is we take people who are credible messengers and we mentor them and we help to pull them off the streets and help them to transform their lives."
"Cleveland was in that process, but it's a process."
At Shaw’s funeral, Gideon’s Army’s Hambino Godbody and other group leaders hailed him as a violence interrupter and a neighborhood hero.
“Cleveland is a sacrifice for Dodge City projects," Godbody said.
“We know the police, didn’t no part of the law like Cleveland because they don’t like Black men who know how to carry theirselves and protect and provide [for] their children.”
But the truth about the Gideon’s Army employee, our investigation discovered, is much more complicated.
Inside the three-wheel vehicle that Shaw was driving, police found three high-powered firearms – even though he was legally prohibited from carrying a weapon because of a domestic violence conviction.
The admitted shooter, Caurice Crawford, the estranged boyfriend of Cleveland Shaw’s sister, recorded a Facebook Live on his way to meet police, where he told them he shot Shaw in self-defense.
Police believe Shaw had also shot up Crawford’s car and his mother’s house the night before.
Fetuga refuses to believe it.
"They don't have any video of that and dead men tell no tales."
An undercover Metro police gang detective knew Cleveland Shaw as the money-flashing head of a street gang that called itself the Dodge City Young Gunnas, -- DCYG for short.
"He was the shot caller. He was the OG for that gang. His word was final," the detective said.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "And people feared him?"
A song sung at that vigil back in April was a tribute to the gang. The balloons were the gang’s colors – part of what police say is the 5-2 – or 5-Deuce – Hoover Crips.
It was the same gang from which Hambino Godbody came - before he was busted in 2012 for trafficking cocaine.
Even though Godbody now encourages people to "cash the f**k out" of the "dope game," he recently posted a salute on Facebook to the 5-Deuce Hoover Crips.
That post came on May 2nd -- 5/2.
"DCYG is a very violent street gang here in Nashville," the detective said. "They have no loyalties to anyone else but their own gang."
How do they make their money?
"From narcotics and robberies."
According to Gideon’s Army, Cleveland Shaw began working as a volunteer in March 2020 after the tornado that hit North Nashville.
"When the tornado happened in Cumberland View, Cleveland was the first person to come with food, to feed the community," Fetuga said.
In October, Gideon's Army put Shaw on the payroll supposedly to keep the peace in the same projects where his criminal activity had resulted in his being banned from the property.
And when police arrested Shaw to enforce the no-trespassing order, Gideon’s Army portrayed him as a victim – a victim of overly aggressive policing.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates noted to Fetuga, "You put him to work in Cumberland View, knowing that he was banned from that property."
"I didn't understand the banned list in that way," she said. "He had been there the whole time."
To try to get the Metro housing agency to take Shaw off the banned list, Shaw submitted a letter in which he argued that he was "a positive black man who loves giving back to my community and the less fortunate."
Gideon’s Army produced also a video showing neighborhood children talking about how Shaw had showered them with money.
“He’s the only one, like, when we don’t have money, he gives us money, snacks, and he be taking us to the store and stuff,” a young boy said.
Court records show that, in a pending court case, Shaw swore he didn’t have a job, didn’t make any money, didn’t receive government assistance.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Fetuga, "Where did you think he was getting his money?"
"We were paying him, Phil," she answered.
We continued, "When he showed up after the tornado, where did you think he was getting his money?"
"We didn't ask," the Gideon's Army boss said, "because he didn't do that for us. He did that for the community."
We wanted to know, "Did it ever concern you that Cleveland might be using Gideon's Army?"
"No, no, not at all," Fetuga said.
But Shaw’s Facebook shows he continued posting gang-related pics, some of them with the #DCYG hashtag, boasting about his expensive clothes, at the same time, touting his alliance with Gideon’s Army.
In October, he bragged “I’m a Gid," then posted more gang images celebrating his flashy clothes, the gang lifestyle, even flashing gang signs from a yacht in Miami – again, with the hashtag #DCYG.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates has also seen messages where Shaw was negotiating to buy a handgun while on the Gideon's Army payroll, even though he was legally prohibited from carrying a firearm.
And when a local rapper produced a video that opened with a gun being fired into the air in the middle of the Cumberland View housing projects, the Gideon's Army employee could be seen, flashing his trademark bankroll.
NewsChannel 5 noted, "By all appearances, he was still very much into the gang life."
"I just don't agree with that," Fetuga said.
But when the Metro agency that oversees the projects refused to take Shaw off the banned list, Fetuga was defiant.
“Cleveland is the reason there is no violence in Cumberland View so he will continue to get paid," she wrote to MDHA officials.
But police records show that, about three months after Shaw began volunteering with Gideon’s Army, multiple witnesses identified him as the suspect who ran another car off the road, “jumped out with short rifles” and “took something from the trunk.”
Among those in the car was Caurice Crawford.
But reports show no one wanted to prosecute because they were “scared of Mr. Shaw.”
Two weeks later, a man was shot in Dodge City.
According to police, the victim's wife and mother identified Cleveland Shaw as the suspect, but the victim would not identify anyone.
Two weeks after that, surveillance video shows a shootout in the neighborhood.
This was during the time when Gideon’s Army claims there was no violence.
Police say it was a dispute between Shaw's gang and a rival gang.
Then, this past March, surveillance video shows area residents running from another shooting.
Investigators say surveillance video shows Cleveland Shaw -- by then, a Gideon's Army employee -- running from the scene, grabbing a gun from his car, then running back.
Just seconds later, people are seen running from a second shooting.
As a result of Shaw being spotted there in Cumberland View with the gun, a Metro housing official emailed his boss: “Based on recent info, recommend that we terminate any affiliation with Gideon’s Army as he is a member of that organization.”
"While they say that, we're still there," Fetuga insisted.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Do you worry that your association with Cleveland Shaw hurt Gideon's Army?"
"I really don't, Phil."
Less than three weeks later, Shaw would be dead.
Then, with the Dodge City community in grief over the death of the gang hero, more gunfire would erupt, resulting in Jamayla Marlowe's death.
"I was and I am fully committed to Cleveland, and I'm committed to our model," Fetuga said.
"This is our model, and it's not always pretty. But you don't give up."
Experts say trying to pull a gang figure off a path of crime is a noble idea, but it must be done with eyes wide open and strict standards.
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