HOUSTON -

Local 2 has uncovered exclusive new information in the rash of fast food and convenience store robberies we've been digging into for the past several months.

Marcia Tillman said last month customers were eating dinner with their families inside the McDonald's she and her husband own on Ella at the North Loop when a group of armed men stormed in and demanded money from the register. Two other businesses were targeted by the same men that night; they were not isolated cases.

For months Local 2 has been digging into the string of armed robberies at fast food restaurants, convenience stores and other small businesses across northwest and north Houston. Through our police sources, we've learned robbery investigators have zeroed in on six different gangs, including one with ties to New Orleans, and that these gang members are recruiting boys as young as 14 so they can teach them how to carry out crime sprees.

The suspects are targeting smaller businesses between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and conceal their identity by wearing hoodies, ski masks and bandanas to cover their faces.

"That's horrible. It's so sad. That just lets us know we have more work to do out there in the community," Tillman said.

Equally as alarming was the recent warning that went out to HPD officers citywide. Local 2 has learned that officers are being told to be extra vigilant because suspects are mentally prepared to shoot an officer and may be aiming for the head.

Local 2 reached out to HPD for an official comment. A department spokesperson wouldn't get into specifics about any particular case or the threat, saying officers are always on alert for any type of calls for service.