By Joe Gorman
For the second day in a row, the mother of one of the 12 men accused of being members of a West Side street gang said there is no gang.
Priscilla Sheppard, mother of 21-year-old Laytton Sheppard, who is accused of being a member of the E Block Gang, said her son and the others indicted with him have been friends since childhood and they are not part of a gang.
“My son is not in a gang,” she said Friday. “There is no E Block Gang.”
On Thursday, another mother of one of the suspects said after nine of the alleged members were arraigned in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that there was no gang and her son and her friends had known one another since childhood. The gang suspects were secretly indicted by a grand jury May 15 on charges ranging from participating in a criminal gang, trafficking in counterfeit controlled substances, aggravated riot, felonious assault, trafficking in cocaine and trafficking in heroin.
They were issued superseding indictments Thursday just before they were arraigned. All nine who were arraigned Thursday entered pleas of not guilty. The other three will be arraigned at later dates.
Priscilla Sheppard said her son was in trouble in 2012 but has been on probation since then and has never broken his probation.
“My son has not been doing anything,” she said.
She said even though there are some houses or buildings across the city “tagged,” or spray-painted with the words E Block Gang, said that is not her son or his friends.
“It’s not these boys spray- painting houses,” Patricia Sheppard said. “What they’re saying isn’t there.”
The indictment specifically charges her son with felonious assault in the beating of two men Sept. 11, 2013; an aggravated robbery that occurred during the same incident; for trying to make or sell fake drugs in November of 2011; and for being part of a criminal gang.
When told of the specific charges, Priscilla Sheppard said she had no knowledge of any of them. She said she knows what her son does because he stays around home a lot because he has epilepsy and that he also has been looking for a job.
“I’m pretty much up on what my son is doing,” she said.
As for the people her son associates with, she said they have all grown up together and are not part of a gang.
“He’s known them since he was 6 years old,” Priscilla Sheppard said. “That doesn’t mean they’re a gang. They [police] know nothing about these kids.”
She said police have harassed her son continually for a long time and stop him for no reason and search him and have never found anything.