• Teenagers arrested, accused of carjacking 73-year-old woman leaving Gastonia store

    By: Ken Lemon


    GASTONIA, N.C. - A 16-year-old accused of carjacking a 73-year-old woman told a judge he is trying to turn his life around.

    Police arrested two teenagers in connection with stealing Linda Auten's green, 1998 Honda Accord on Sunday afternoon.

    Santonio Eskridge and Jaikem Brooks, both 16, were arrested and charged in the carjacking.

    Eskridge told the judge on Friday he just got out of jail two weeks ago and was on probation for possession of a stolen car.

    Larry Auten, Linda Auten’s husband, learned both 16-year-olds were on probation, but he still thinks they should have the chance to get beyond their criminal records.

    "I just hope someday, this young man can make something of his life,” Larry Auten said. "I want him to pay, but I don't want every drop of blood."

    [ALSO READ: Man carjacks woman, child outside Matthews orthodontist office, police say]



    Linda Auten said she "went flying out of the car" after two men yanked her out of her car before stealing it.

    She told Channel 9's Gaston County bureau reporter Ken Lemon that two strangers asked her for a ride as she walked out of the Dollar General on Union Road and Osceola Street around 3 p.m.

    When she refused, Linda Auten said the two men jumped in the car after she got in and demanded a ride.

    Linda Auten said she tried to fend them off, but they were both younger and stronger than her.

    While driving, she said the man in the passenger seat forced her to stop and took the keys out of the ignition.

    According to Linda Auten, the man in the back seat then jumped out of the car, opened her door, yanked her out and drove off.

    "He grabbed my hand and pulled me out, and I went flying out of the car, billfold and everything," she said.

    [ALSO READ: College student carjacked at Ballantyne shopping center: 'It felt like a movie']

    After she was thrown out of her own vehicle, she said, "They just hurt me, you know." 

    Linda Auten said she walked to Ashley Arms Apartments nearby and a couple in the complex called 911.

    "There is a lady here who said she was just carjacked," the caller told a 911 dispatcher. "She said they took her car, her purse and everything."

    Linda Auten suffered a micro-fracture in her arm during the carjacking.

    "Thank you for not seriously hurting or killing my wife,” Larry Auten said. "At least they showed mercy on her, and I appreciate that."

    Linda Auten's stolen car was used Monday in a chase through Cleveland County into Rutherford County, where the driver crashed into a ditch, police said.

    Linda Auten said shopping since the incident has been difficult.

    "I just watch everywhere when I go places,” she said.

    Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

    Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:

    Next Up: