12-year-old points gun at woman’s face in robbery, CMPD says

CHARLOTTE — A 12-year-old has been charged with armed robbery in an incident that happened Sunday morning in southwest Charlotte.

In a news conference Monday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said the robbery was reported at the Coffey Creek Apartments near Diamond Creek Circle and South Tryon Street. Police said a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old are accused of carrying it out.

Capt. Jason Helton said around 8 a.m. Sunday, the victim allowed the two kids, who are brothers, to use her phone to call their mom, but they took off running with the phone.

Helton said she followed them to get the phone back, and that was when the 12-year-old pointed a gun at her face and tried to pistol whip her. The two ran to a nearby apartment complex, Helton said.

CMPD called the children’s mother, who police said they had previously contacted, as they were familiar with the family.

Helton said the 6-year-old later led them to that gun which, though it looks real, turned out to be a BB gun. He said if the woman had been armed, it could have been a tragic case, and that’s why the department found it important to highlight.

“Let me paint a picture for you: What would’ve happened if that female would’ve been armed? We could be dealing with something really, really tragic here,” he said.

He said crime with suspects this young is, unfortunately, not that uncommon for his officers.

“Officers are dealing with juveniles every single day. Property crimes, violent crimes. And when I say juveniles, I mean kids -- I mean ages 11, 12, 13, 14 years old -- and it seems like they just keep getting younger and younger,” he said.

He offered the following advice to parents: Know where your kids are, and know what’s on their social media. He said one of the children had posed with a gun a couple days prior on social media. He asked parents to check in with their kids, talk to them, and see who they’re hanging out with.

Helton said like the victim in this case, many people just want to help. But be aware when you do, you could be a victim of a crime.

Channel 9 spoke with community activist Darrell Gregory, who works with children in group homes and social services.

Gregory said the community can save more children through prevention instead of intervention.

“It takes just one person in a critical moment where that child feels alone and neglected, and then you’re fighting an uphill battle,” Gregory said. “The biggest thing is we have to be close to our kids. They have to know that we love them, and we are willing to do whatever it takes to help them.”

6-year-old is ‘just a victim’

Capt. Helton touched on just how young the 6-year-old is to be involved in something like this.

“You have to look at that 6-year-old as a victim,” he said. “He’s a victim of his circumstances and environment, right?”

Police said they’ve tried to keep the kids out of trouble after seeing crime in their family and some of their friends. They tried to intervene early, but this time, they charged the 12-year-old with a felony.

A young mother and father told Channel 9′s Evan Donovan they live in the same apartment complex with kids who are aged 5, 4, and 2. They said they can’t imagine someone near their kids’ ages doing something like that.

“It’s sad, you got to teach ‘em young. Because you just never know,” Rae’nya DeGraffenreid said. “Stuff like that can happen -- kids go robbing. And you got to blame the parents because there’s no home training.”

The 12-year-old is charged with armed robbery and damage to property, police said.

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