NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A former security officer at Denbigh High School was convicted by a federal jury Monday of several crimes connected to a gang.
39-year-old Michael Hopson was found guilty of charges including racketeering conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, robbery, obstruction of justice, murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy and attempted murder in aid of racketeering.
Court documents say Hopson, also known as “Hop” and “Big Homie” was the founding member and leader of the P-Stones, a gang also referred to as the P-Stone Bloods and Cobra Stones. Prosecutors say the gang primarily operates in the Denbigh area of Newport News.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, the P-Stones engage in violent crimes including murders, illegal drug trafficking, obstruction of justice and robberies that often target drug dealers and use stolen money and inventory to purchase guns and fund gang members’ court dues.
According to evidence presented at trial, as the leader, Hopson planned, directed and participated in recruitment of members, including minors. He also apparently collected monthly gang dues, carried out and ordered violations, ordered and presided over meetings and organized gun and marijuana distribution.
Hopson also served as a security officer at Denbigh High School. Prosecutors say he used the position to further the Black P-Stones gang by recruiting minors and selling narcotics to high school students.
According to evidence presented at trial, Hopson personally ordered multiple shootings and murders between October 2007 and June 2009, including:
- On Oct. 31, 2007, Hopson ordered P-Stone members to murder A.J., a member of the rival Thugs Relations street gang. At Hopson’s direction, the P-Stones members tried to lure A.J. from the home while armed. A.J. did not come out of the house and the P-Stone members left.
- On Nov. 6, 2007, a P-Stone member, acting on Hopson’s orders lured E.S., a 17-year-old P-Stone member, to a location in Newport News to kill him. Hopson had previously given him the “green light” for the killing of E.S. for his relations with Thug Relations. Once E.S. arrived he was shot and killed, and Hopson rewarded the P-Stone member with a promotion.
- On Dec. 10, 2008 Hopson authorized the murder of J.W., a Crip who was disrespectful to members of the P-Stones. Acting on those orders, two P-Stone members went to the home of J.W. and fired multiple rounds into the home. J.W.’s father, who was sitting in the living room when the assault occurred, was hit with debris from the bullet shrapnel and suffered an injury to his eye.
- On March 9, 2009, Hopson ordered the murder of two members of 10-1 Mafia Crips, rivals of the P-Stones, for the beating of a P-Stone member. Acting on Hopson’s orders, two P-Stone members shot multiple times into the home of the two 10-1 Mafia Crips.
- On April 17, 2009, Hopson ordered two P-Stones to fire multiple rounds into a home he knew to be occupied because the people inside the home were disrespectful to him.
- On June 12, 2009, Hopson ordered the murder of A.J., a Thug Relations member who was responsible for the murder of a P-Stone member. A P-Stone member acting on Hopson’s orders shot and wounded A.J.
Rev. W. G. Maxwell — a former principal in Georgia and the pastor of New Beach Grove Baptist Church which is located not far from Denbigh High — says a security guard is supposed to be part of a safe place for students to turn in need.
“For a security guard to do that is just sad,” Rev. Maxwell said. “That just grieves my heart to know that he was using his position because that’s a pivotal position. I never ever looked at it like it could be used as something that negative.”
Rev. Maxwell says this is a wake up call. He’s asking that all community leaders get more involved in the schools.
“We need to step up our game a little more,” he said. “It just makes you know that as a community leader, you have to be just that more vigilant.”
Brandi Drake is a Denbigh High graduate who has an eleventh grader there now. She was gone before Hopson started working there, she says she but remembers him.
“I would see him interact with kids actually, but it didn’t seem like it was anything but how it’s supposed to be,” Drake said.
Newport News school officials released a statement about Hopson’s employment with the district on Tuesday, which reads in full:
As part of the hiring process in Newport News Public Schools, all candidates for employment must successfully pass a background check which includes a national criminal background check through the Virginia State Police and a national child welfare check through Virginia Child Protective Services.
Michael Hopson was hired as a security officer in September 2005 and was assigned to Denbigh High School. Mr. Hopson was transferred to Marshall Early Childhood Center and served at that location during the 2007-2008 and the 2008-2009 school years. He was transferred to Huntington Middle School in August of 2009. He served as a security officer at that location until December 15, 2009, when he was placed on administrative leave for violating Virginia Administrative Code VAC 20-240-40, SSO Standards of Conduct which requires school security officers to notify the employing school division within 72 hours or the next business day of any arrest for any misdemeanor or felony and to notify the employing school division within 10 days of being found guilty by any court or administrative body.
Mr. Hopson had not reported two misdemeanor charges that occurred in May 2009 and August 2009. He was separated from the school division in February 2010.”
Hopson faces a mandatory penalty of life in prison. He’s set to be sentenced on March 3, 2017.