UNION COUNTY, N.C. - North Carolina authorities arrested a juvenile Wednesday they say robbed a 9-year-old lemonade vendor of $17 at gunpoint, a stickup that prompted an outpouring of sympathy and donations for the young entrepreneur.
Detectives said they obtained security camera footage of a person matching the suspect’s description near where the robbery happened.
The suspect, identified as a male, was arrested without incident.
The suspect's identity was being withheld under North Carolina law. Detectives working with the state's Department of Juvenile Justice obtained petitions charging the juvenile with robbery with a dangerous weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia, authorities said.
The young vendor, Mark David, told sheriff's deputies he was held up at gunpoint Saturday while selling lemonade at a traffic circle not far from the entrance to his community in Monroe. Investigators subsequently said they were seeking a male suspect.
A business card that one customer collected from the lemonade stand said Mark also works as a lawn mower, dog walker and professional ring bearer.
"I opened the box, he grabbed it, pushed the gun at me and ran away," Mark said.
Neighbors said the child has bounced back after the crime though and set up his lemonade stand again on Sunday.
His mother always stays on a video chat with him when he's selling lemonade, and she overheard the robbery.
"It's really terrifying and every parent can relate to that, even if it's not your own child, your heart hurts and bleeds for that," Llona said.
“I'm often seeing the young man selling organic lemonade,” neighbor Robert Pendleton said.
Deputies said Mark reported that a male teenager with a camouflage hat and black shirt stuck a black handgun to his stomach, demanded money and then ran away with the boy's cash box.
“In today's world, people are very bold,” Union County spokesman Tony Underwood said. “Criminals are very bold. This is a new low."
Underwood said less than $20 in cash was stolen.
Authorities said they found a camouflage hat, a black BB handgun and a stolen metal tin in the nearby woods. Deputies believe the suspect left a bicycle in the brush for his getaway.
“They found the camo hat we believe was worn by the suspect,” Underwood said. “We also found a black-colored handgun we believe was the handgun that was used, turns out it was a BB gun.”
The Union County Sheriff’s Office and Channel 9 have been inundated with messages from people wanting to help David.
“I’m just so happy and thankful,” Mark said.
“It restores faith. It’s just so much love,” his mother said.
The neighborhood’s homeowners association president set up a GoFundMe account, with the money earmarked for a college-savings fund.
Mark's mother told Channel 9 while it’s very generous, monetary donations are not necessary.
Several neighbors said the 9-year-old relocated his station to the community pool on Sunday.
Channel 9 learned the boy was saving his money in order to buy a lawnmower. Mooresville-based Lowe's heard about the story and donated a new-pony model riding lawnmower to him.
“It's pretty cool what you're trying to do at such a young age, and tell you what, it's pretty awesome to be a part of it," Lowe’s store manager Chris Beatty said.
“If he's trying to have some kind of goal, maybe the people of the neighborhood could chip in and help out, reward some hard work,” neighbor Lou Armada said.
Mark plans to use the money he’d saved to invest in his business. He and his family planned to thank all of their neighbors for their support with cookies and lemonade at the neighborhood pool on Wednesday.
“I am very proud of the work our deputies and detectives did to identify the suspect in this case. They have worked tirelessly to bring closure for the victim, his family and the St. John’s Forest community,” Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said.
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