As Charlotte-Mecklenburg police work overtime to solve a string of weekend shootings, Chief Kerr Putney said the department will take a more aggressive stance when dealing with individuals who function as criminal gangs.

At least 12 people were shot at six locations in Charlotte during the Labor Day weekend. Five of those victims died, including a 7-year-old boy who was attending a birthday party.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Putney said the shootings may have stemmed from gang-like groups retaliating against one another.

“It’s not a gang that’s named, but the behavior is like a gang,” he said. “So as far as I’m concerned, we’re going to treat them like a gang until we find out it’s otherwise.”

In the Springfield subdivision off Nation’s Ford Road, 7-year-old Kevin Antonio Calderon Rodas died late Saturday when someone opened fire during an outdoor birthday party. Three other people were reported injured in that attack.

Hours later and only five blocks away, 30-year-old Laquanta Franchez Young was killed just after midnight as she sat on a porch. A man who lived in the house was injured.

Putney declined to give specifics but said rival groups in Charlotte had been “beefing” for several weeks. In the case of Kevin Rodas, he said, the family had recently moved into the house and that the shooting may have been a case of mistaken identity.

“What we’re seeing it two groups beefing, back and forth, just for silliness – nothing that should rise to this level of violence,” Putney said. “Disagreement is clubs that spill out into parking lots and that leads to shootings. Just stupid stuff.

“It’s frustrating,” he said, “because no argument should end the ways some of these are ending.”

Putney said an assault rifle was used in at last one attack and that some survivors weren’t cooperating with investigators.

“All we need is a break, so we’re asking the community to step forward and do that,” he said. “…If you know something in that community, you need to be talking to us.”

Putney said the $5,000 Crime Stoppers reward for information leading to an arrest had been doubled to $10,000 in the case of the five weekend homicides.

Meanwhile, Putney said CMPD would be adopting a more aggressive policy when dealing with gangs and gang-like activity, looking to make more early arrests where it legally can.

“We’re not going to wait for this kind of activity to take root,” he said. “…I expect us to chop the head off the snake of violence that we’re confronted with right now.”

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.