I-Team: Students Learn from Former 311 Gang Member - 8 News NOW

Investigative Reporter Colleen McCarty and Photojournalist Kyle Zuelke

I-Team: Students Learn from Former 311 Gang Member

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When it comes to children and violence, rarely is there any good news. Researchers regularly find what many of us already fear -- our kids are exposed to too much violence and violent behavior is often the result.

Just ask your kids.

Eyewitness News asked Brandon Gallion about a recent survey that found one in four teens thinks violence is OK. Gallion, an ex-felon, thought the number sounded low. So did a room full of high school students who put it closer to three out of four.

Even at 22-years-old, Gallion enjoys a certain celebrity status in Clark County classrooms, "Everyone was like, ‘The 311 Boyz are here,' and they have your newspaper clippings."

Though perhaps enjoys is the wrong word, "I'm 22-years-old, haven't been in that game since I was 16, but you will have kids, eighth grade kids, ‘I know Brandon Gallion, hung out with him.'"

Gallion tries to define the difference between celebrity and notoriety to kids who read his violent history like a comic book instead of a cautionary tale, "I've done everything you've done, thought about doing, or will do. The difference is I got caught."

At 16-years-old, Gallion faced 17 adult felony charges for his role in the melee that left Stephen "Tanner" Hansen permanently disfigured. Though Gallion didn't throw the rock, he rolled with the infamous 311 Boyz who chronicled their summer of terror on home video.

Gallion narrowly avoided prison in 2004, sentenced instead to probation and house arrest, "I made the choices to be the bad part of life. This is my right and I'm taking it, to be a positive influence on these kids lives."

Gallion's T.A.R.G.E.T. program, Teens At Risk Get Educated Today, seeks to stop the cycle of violence and substance abuse.

For an hour and 25 minutes, Gallion leads a conversation with Bonanza High School students that many parents and teachers never get to have.

"You sat and watched these kids raise their hands when I said, ‘How many of you know of a weapon on campus?' and almost the whole entire class raised their hand. Doesn't that amaze you? That's 30 kids that know of a weapon on campus," he said.

30 kids who also admit they have no plans to report it.

Gallion knows it sounds cliché, but if his so-called celebrity status helps him to reach just one kid, he'll continue to channel his 16-year-old self.

The former 311 Boy turned college student wishes he hadn't learned the hard way, "Young people should not have to go through what everyone in our situation went through and that's why we keep fighting to do this."

Gallion is free of any court-ordered commitments. He presents T.A.R.G.E.T. because he wants to, not because he has to. So far, he says, more than 10,000 students have participated.

Gallion and his family also conduct seminars for parents, for school staff, and for law enforcement. His mother participates with him. She wants kids to understand what she went through because of the choices her son made.

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