Temple gang

A homegrown Temple gang brought violence and death to the streets of Central Texas — and police are still investigating to determine if it is responsible for other unsolved crimes.

Shootings, violent home invasion robberies and five murders are among the felony crimes law enforcement agencies said members of Killaz With Aggression are responsible for, starting with a slaying in Hearne in 2015.

An uptick in local violent crimes in 2017 led the Temple Police Department to launch a Violent Crime Task Force to handle the caseload.

Their efforts paid off last month when law enforcement officials announced a federal grand jury indicted multiple suspects who were part of the Temple-based gang responsible for violent crimes between 2017 and 2018 throughout Central Texas.

TPD spokesman Cody Weems said the agency takes gang activity “very seriously.”

“Our department has worked tirelessly with several other agencies to ensure that violent criminals associated with Killaz With Aggression are brought to justice,” Weems said. “Aside from KWA, TPD has not experienced significant organized criminal activity. KWA is currently the only known formed and recognized gang that is operating in the city. They are violent and have been indicted on murder, robbery and conspiracy charges for their activity in the region.”

Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds agreed.

“The city of Temple and Central Texas area is a safer place with these violent offenders off the streets,” Reynolds said at a news conference last month attended by law enforcement officials from the federal, state, county and local levels. “Organized crime and crime that victimizes the community should not be tolerated and it is my hope that this operation sends a message that this type of activity will not be tolerated in the city of Temple.”

A federal indictment alleges that five suspects conspired to commit five murders, including three in Temple and one apiece in Belton and Hearne, a Robertson County city of about 4,400 roughly 60 miles southeast of Temple.

Suspects also are accused of violent assault; drug trafficking; extortion; and armed robberies. The indictment also alleges that six men brandished a firearm during a robbery and another two men fired a gun during a violent crime.

Three of the suspects also are accused of conspiring to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

Defendants include Jason Mayse, 39; Christopher Meyers, 24; Reginald Williams, 27; Desmond Wilkerson, 27; Atorius Marquis Williams, 23; Demonta Daniels, 21; Trashawn Lamar Alexander, 26; James Roy Whitfield, 27; and Jyraciel Whitfield, 24.

A seventh suspect, Dominic Johnson, 25, is considered a fugitive.

Homegrown gang

Temple Police officials have said for years that Temple has not had a significant gang problem.

Former Police Chief Floyd Mitchell told the Telegram in 2016 and 2017 that local gang activity was minimal, but noted robberies and other street crimes were rising in some parts of town.

As crimes increased, the new gang activity caught the attention of officers as the police department spent about $14,435 on overtime and other expenses on the task force.

“This department makes every effort to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation on every case,” former TPD spokeswoman Shawana Neeley told the Telegram in June 2018. “Therefore, when a homicide occurs, it is all hands on deck. TPD works vigorously to not only bring closure to the victims’ families but to do our part to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Blanton, who is prosecuting the cases, said the Department of Justice first noticed Killaz With Aggression in 2014 when gang members began committing small crimes. The gang was self contained at the time and only operated in Central Texas.

KWA gang members are charged with several violent home invasions around the region, including those in Belton, Hearne, Killeen, Cameron and Temple, Weems said.

“Most of the shootings involving KWA were drug-related,” he said.

Area homicides

The Sept. 30, 2017, slaying of Belton resident Redrick Robinson, who was fatally shot in his bedroom, remained unsolved until last month, when authorities announced KWA gang members were responsible for the death.

Belton Police Chief Gene Ellis said his agency was able to tell grieving family members “that justice is coming for his son and all the children of that victim.”

Three Temple murders are attributed to KWA, including the Dec. 10, 2017, slaying of Archie Lee Geiger, 49, a man known to authorities for narcotics activity who was shot and killed at his Temple residence at 1309 N. Second St.

The Jan. 16, 2018, killing of Willie Howard, 59, also is attributed to KWA members. Howard was killed at 817 N. Fourth Street during a robbery believed to involve money or narcotics.

Weeks later, April Lashawn Isaac, 36, was killed during a home invasion robbery. Her body was found Jan. 31, 2018, in the 500 block of East Young Avenue.

Authorities were able to tie KWA to another unsolved murder in Central Texas. Jaterryion Davis, 18, was killed on Nov. 26, 2015, during an altercation while he was playing dice during a gathering at the Daryl Moody Center in Hearne.

Investigation continues

Temple Police continue to investigate unsolved homicides, including home invasions, to determine if they are connected to KWA, Weems said.

“We do not see a large amount of juvenile gang-related activity,” he said. “There are currently no identified juveniles associated with KWA.”

Additionally, Weems said, Temple Police said they have not seen any activity involving hate groups.

“The department has not observed, heard of or had any hate group activity reported to its members,” Weems said.

TPD formed a Violent Crimes Enforcement Squad in 2019, tasked with tracking, predicting and preventing crimes related to violent offenders and known gang members, Weems said.

“This unit also tracks potential relationships between violent offenders and known criminal elements to curb related criminal activity,” Weems said. “In 2020, the department also assigned an officer to the FBI Safe Streets task force with the mission to track, apprehend and prosecute gang members involved in criminal activity within the city of Temple.”