Vigilantes take on youth gang
HARD men from the Fraser Coast have vowed to reclaim the streets from the grip of a gang of young thugs whose reign of indiscriminate violence has left bones shattered, lives scarred and sown a growing fear of walking the streets of Hervey Bay after dark.
The men, all local, are sickened by the recent acts of random brutality that have seen consequences such as an off-duty police officer hospitalised with a fractured skull, another man flown to Brisbane for reconstructive surgery, yet another rushed to a local emergency ward to repair gashes to his face.
A Chronicle investigation has identified a gang of youths aged between 14-17 that preys upon clients of licensed premises and food outlets along Boat Harbour Dve and the business strip down Main St.
A weekend does not pass when victims of a group that fits their description leaves its imprint on the city in blood.
In the past weeks the assaults have ramped up, prompting the vigilantes to pledge to do their part to try to keep the streets of the city they love safe.
When the men spoke to the Chronicle they emphasised that theirs was not a movement attempting to take the law into its own hands.
They know the youths involved in the violence and believe that if they help monitor the trouble spots it will help.
They are prepared to put their bodies on the line for anybody being harassed and to tail the gang, reporting its movements to police.
“I come from a pretty rough part of the world,” group spokesman Jimmy Bailey said. “What is going on is a complete breakdown of discipline, it's a collapse.
“I am a father of three and I am worried about my kids' safety and my own freedom.”
Josh Patu said the gang was a minority whose values were skewed.
“Violence is a way for these kids to feel validated, they need a lesson,” he said.
“For them to king hit somebody gives them a bit of a name.
“The fear they are creating does more damage than the crimes they commit.”
One of the vigilantes, in the same age bracket as the youths causing the trouble, was attacked with a rock last year and left unconscious in the street, not far from the food outlets on Boat Harbour Dve.
Tye Buchholz, now 17, said he wanted to do what he could so others did not suffer the same fate.
The men estimated their numbers at 20, with those giving a commitment to help growing daily.
The Chronicle's Wanted: More Police campaign is calling for the State Government to allocate more police to the Fraser Coast.
It is understood that some nights there is only one general duty squad car available to patrol the local area command.
Last week, for example, a Urangan woman called 000 to report criminals trying to force entry to her house only to be forced to hide in her bathroom for an our before understaffed police were able to send officers to the scene.