Laquante Tavares Adams was 12 when his first sibling died from gun violence. He was 23 when a second sibling was shot to death.
He was 19 when he was shot — it happened at a party in December 2014, in the “600” neighborhood of Danville when someone disrespected his own neighborhood, the “800,” just before bullets started flying.
The rivalry between the two neighborhoods, he explained, goes back decades.
“It’s been like that since my dad’s generation,” he testified as part of an ongoing federal racketeering and murder trial.
The person who shot him was a Northside member of the Billy Bloods, a set of the Bloods street gang with territory in the “600” neighborhood. So when friends — and fellow co- defendants — Phillip Daekwon Miles, Kevin Lamont Trent Jr. and other close childhood friends joined the Rollin’ 60s, a Crips street gang, Adams became interested in gang life.
“We would have protection, family and make money together,” Adams said Thursday, describing what he was told before joining.
It was the 15th official day of the trial concerning the Rollin’ 60s Crips, where its accused leader — Marcus Jay Davis — is the lone defendant. Seven co-defendants took plea deals following revelations that prosecutors didn’t hand over transcripts from multiple state special grand juries as required.
Adams, who on Thursday finished two days of testimony, focused mainly on the events of Aug. 20, 2016, when Christopher Motley died in an ambush at the Southwyck Hills Apartments.
He and other members of his gang and of the Milla Bloods were in a third-floor apartment at the complex, trying to lure the leader of a rival gang into an ambush by arguing with him over the phone.
Dashawn “Shon Don” Romeer Anthony, of the Milla Bloods, told them the leader of the rival Billy Bloods was going to arrive soon, so they should get their guns.
Since Adams did not have a gun, he sat on the living room couch as fellow gang members stood outside. Miles, remaining inside the apartment and talking through a window, told others where to stand to set up the perfect ambush.
Anthony and Miles, both armed, took up positions by a window.
Soon, a van pulled into the apartment complex’s parking lot. Inside were Motley and his cousin, Justion Wilson.
The shooting began, Adams testified, when someone yelled Motley, at the time being mistaken for the rival gang’s leader, was reaching for a gun.
“Someone said, ‘He’s reachin’!’ and they started shooting,” Adams testified.
The rounds fired from the third-floor apartment triggered the volley of fire from all the other gang members hidden behind cars, trash cans and bushes. It wasn’t until the van’s driver, Wilson, began screaming that they stopped shooting.
“Y’all shot my cousin! Y’all shot my cousin!,” Adams testified of Wilson’s screams.
The ambush team grew frantic once the shooting stopped. People ran through the woods, some hid in cars or apartments, while others drove off.
The shooting severely impacted the public’s image of the gang.
“People looked at us like bad people,” Adams said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Carlton then asked whether the ambush made the gangs look strong or weak.
“I’d say both,” Adams answered.
Avent is a reporter with the Danville Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 797-7983.