5 teens arrested, accused of armed robberies, firing shots, leading police on chase

By: Stephanie Tinoco

Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Police said the five teenage boys went on a violent crime spree across Charlotte Thursday night, including two armed robberies, one of which included punching an 8-year-old.

The teens are also believed to be responsible for firing shots at the apartment complex and leading police on a chase that ended in a crash in a neighborhood on Enfield Road.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested John Benitez, 18; Sergio Madrano, 19; Brandon De La Cerda, 19; Juan Santiago-Flores, 19; and Jerry Aguilar, 18.

Aguilar, Flores, Cerda, Madrano, Benitez

(Aguilar, Santiago-Flores, De La Cerda, Madrano and Benitez)

A woman told Channel 9 she heard gunshots and found bullet holes inside her home.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she is still shaken up by the violent act.

She said she heard at least a dozen gunshots and bullets pierced through her kitchen window during, dinner time leaving five bullet holes in the ceiling.

The woman said her family was watching TV and her two small children were inside at the time.

“I was in shock because I was about to walk into the kitchen right when it happened,” she said. “I have no idea who these guys are. We just moved here less than a year ago.”

Investigators told Channel 9 that the incident began just after 5 p.m. when officers went to the 4100 block of Sudbury Road after receiving a report of an armed robbery.

The victims told police that they were approached by the five suspects who demanded money and implied they had a gun. One of the robbers struck one of the victims before the group fled with the stolen property.

The victim was able to take photographs of the suspects as they took off in a vehicle.

Less than two hours later, police responded to Dunlavin Way in reference to a shots-fired call. They didn’t find anything at that location but at 7:41 p.m. they were called to another shots-fired call in the 2300 block of Eastway Drive.

When they arrived, the victims told police that they had heard gunshots earlier and had noticed that pieces of their roof were falling inside their apartment. Officers found shell casings in the parking lot and several bullet holes in the exterior and interior of the apartment.

Nobody was hit by the gunfire.

About five minutes later, police were called about an armed robbery in the 4500 block of Central Avenue. The victims in that incident told detectives they were parking their vehicle when the suspect vehicle pulled in behind their car and five people got out and approached them with handguns, demanding phones and money.

The five individuals then got back into their vehicle and sped off.

Then, around 9:30 p.m., police spotted the suspect vehicle in the Wendy's drive-through at the intersection of Central Avenue and Eastway Drive.

Officers initiated a traffic stop, but the driver refused to stop, instead leading police on a high-speed chase that ended when the vehicle crashed at the dead end of Falmouth Road at Enfield Road.

CMPD officers quickly set up a perimeter and were able to take all five teenagers into custody. Police also told Channel 9 that two guns were found inside the crashed car. Detectives determined that the shell casings found at the Dunlavin Way scene were the same make and model of one of the guns inside the vehicle.

Benitez was charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling, five counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, six counts of armed robbery, six counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, assault on a child younger than 12 and possession of a stolen firearm.

Madrano was charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling, five counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, six counts of armed robbery, six counts of conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a stolen firearm.

De La Cerda was charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling, five counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, six counts of armed robbery, six counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, possession of a stolen firearm, felony speed to elude, failure to heed and driving while license revoked.

Santiago-Flores was charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling, five counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, six counts of armed robbery, six counts of conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a stolen firearm.

Aguilar was charged with shooting into an occupied dwelling, five counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon, six counts of armed robbery, six counts of conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a stolen firearm.

Another neighbor said his satellite dish was struck by bullets.

Still, another neighbor told Channel 9 she was walking nearby when she saw the teens holding weapons in their hand and shooting straight toward the apartment complex.

“It was terrifying,” she said. “I didn’t get any sleep last night fearing they would come back.”

Channel 9 found that the five suspects have been arrested more than 30 times combined.

Nineteen-year-old De La Cerda has been arrested 17 times. Eighteen-year-old Benitez has been arrested eight times since his 16th birthday.

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