Teen accused in string of robberies with fake gun

Police union: 'It has nothing to do with skin color'
Teen arrested for using fake gun in west side armed robberies. (Source: Cleveland Police Dept.)
Teen arrested for using fake gun in west side armed robberies. (Source: Cleveland Police Dept.)
Officers recognized the suspect's description and were able to arrest the teen without incident. (Source: Cleveland Police Dept.)
Officers recognized the suspect's description and were able to arrest the teen without incident. (Source: Cleveland Police Dept.)
The crimes happened in the same general area by the teen's home. (Source: Google Maps)
The crimes happened in the same general area by the teen's home. (Source: Google Maps)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland Police arrested a 14-year-old boy accused in several aggravated robberies on the city's west side. Police say the teen used a fake gun loaded with fake bullets to commit the crimes over the past two days.

"Targets of opportunity," said Steve Loomis, the president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association. "People walking down the road got a gun put in their face, you know what it is, and they got robbed."

On Wednesday around 7:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to a call for a man robbed at gunpoint in the area of Carrington Avenue and West 130th Street. While on the way to the scene, officers were advised by radio that the suspect was a white male, about 14 years old, wearing camouflage pants, a black hoodie and riding a blue mountain bike.

Police say when officers arrived at the scene and spoke with the 29-year-old victim, he said he was walking on Carrington and the juvenile was riding a bicycle behind him. When the juvenile ordered him to empty his pockets, the victim says he pulled out a long, black firearm. The victim gave the suspect a pack of cigarettes, a lighter and his Walgreens rewards card. The suspect then fled on his bicycle.

What the victim didn't know at that point was the revolver was fake, a toy gun.

"You couldn't tell. You absolutely could not tell that was a quote unquote toy gun there's nothing about a toy gun if it's made look real it's just not a toy," said Loomis.  "I've never seen anything like that, a toy gun that's ridiculous for that to even be allowed to be manufactured. This thing had bullets in it, it was a revolver it had bullets in it."

Police believe other recent cases were connected to this teen.

As officers toured the area for the suspect after the initial report, another robbery call came in for a woman robbed at gunpoint in the area of West 130th and Erwin Avenue. Around 7:30 p.m. a 35-year-old woman was walking with her 9-year-old and 11-year-old sons, when she was approached by a teen with a similar description. She told police he asked to use her cell phone because his phone was out of minutes. After she gave him the phone, he called someone asking for a ride and then pulled out a gun and said, "if you try to take it away, I will shoot you." The victim reported he then fled on his bicycle.

Earlier around 3:30 p.m. in the 13000 block of Puritas Avenue, a teen matching the description tried to rob a 61-year-old man at gunpoint, but when the victim's son pulled up, the suspect fled. Police say witnesses were able to identify the juvenile because they knew he lived in the neighborhood.

According to police, officers recognized the description of the suspect from previous encounters and went to his nearby home on Milligan Avenue. They were able to talk with family members, who then picked up the teen from another location and brought him to officers. The teen was arrested without incident.

Police say the teen admitted to the Carrington robbery, along with two others.

Loomis said that the teen initially told officers that his gun was a toy, but eventually turned it over to officers. The gun, which was a replica revolver, did not have an orange safety tip or other safety markings.

"If it walks like a gun, talks like a gun it's a gun, and in the eyes of the law it doesn't matter," Loomis said.

The teen was arrested without incident.

Cleveland 19 asked Loomis to address any possible comparisons to the Tamir Rice incident, since the 12-year-old was killed in 2014 while playing with a replica gun. He specifically addressed people who may allege race played a role in how either case ended.

"That's ridiculous. The circumstances are what the difference is," said Loomis. "Again, when we made contact with [the 14-year-old accused of aggravated assault] he didn't have a gun on him. He didn't have a gun in his hand, he wasn't pulling it out of his waistband. That truly is a tragic set of circumstances with Tamir Rice but, apples and oranges we're comparing. It has nothing to do with skin color."

The teen was booked, processed and returned home. Detectives will follow up with the cases with the juvenile prosecutor.

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