Boy called ‘threat to the community’ set free, in foster care

See why, if this young man was a few months older – he’d be locked up in Juvenile Detention …

While waiting for her for her parents to emerge from a well-known outer East Portland church, a woman says a young gunman threatened her: “I’m perfectly willing to blow your brains out”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While community members were hosting a free community-wide Holiday celebration on December 8, a crime was taking place on the other side of the building.

Members of the Rosewood Initiative – the group striving to increase safety and livability around the crime-plagued area of SE Stark Street and SE 162nd Avenue – didn’t realize an attempted armed carjacking was being attempted just minutes after their Holiday party began.

At 12:15 p.m., 22-year-old Ami Garrett of Southeast Portland was sitting in the family truck, waiting for her parents to come out of the Freedom Foursquare Church at 16000 SE Alder Street, when she was approached by two boys.

After almost being carjacked by an 11-year-old gunman and his 7-year-old accomplice, Ami Garrett speaks with KPTV Fox 12 reporters. Image courtesy of Fox 12 Oregon

When Garrett casually remarked that it was cold outside and asked why they weren’t wearing jackets, she told KPAM 860’s Victoria Taft, “They said, ‘We don’t need jackets’ – along with a lot of choice words – ‘because we’re tough’. The seven-year-old said, ‘Show her your piece’.”

Surprised, Garrett asked if the gun was real, she said “You never ask anyone that who’s a good shot,” the 11-year-old replied. “So you want to let me take your truck?”

“He kept reminding me that gun was cocked and fully loaded,” Garrett said, “and he added, ‘I’m perfectly willing to blow your brains out’.”

When Garrett explained her truck was out of gas, the young thugs demanded money; and she reminded them that she was waiting for her parents to come out of church and give her gas money.

“They walked, like, two feet away, and the seven-year-old says ‘We’re not walking away here empty handed!’”

They then demanded Garrett give up her cell phone. “The seven-year-old said that I was ‘calling the cops’; and the 11-year-old waved around the gun around. I told them I wasn’t and showed him the screen. I tried to turn to start my car, and he grabbed my arm and shouted, “No, you’re not leaving.”

Nonetheless, Garrett started the truck and pulled out.

“He pulled the gun and was pointing toward my truck like he’s trying to aim.  That’s when the cops came around, and started talking to them.”

As police took the young thugs into custody – Garrett said they didn’t handcuff them – they just set the younger boy on the curb, and put the older one in the back of a district patrol car.

News crews from four Portland television stations get ready for “live shots” on the street where the reported crime took place.

Garrett later learned that another 11-year-old across the street saw the gun being waved around and called his mother over, who called 9-1-1.

“They were shooting out the windows of the houses before this happened,” Garrett stated. They were hooligans. The boy whose mother called the police, said that [the alleged carjacker] also damaged someone’s car. It’s right around the neighborhood where he does everything. He lives right next door to my church.”

Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson said that Robbery Division detectives were briefed by officers at the scene.

“Officers told the 11-year-old to keep his hands out of his pockets but he ignored the officers and tried putting his hand back in his pocket,” Simpson said. “Officers grabbed his arms and recovered a cocked and loaded .22 caliber handgun in his pocket.”
But due the age of the child suspects, Simpson continued, “they were both placed into the custody of their families as they [legally] cannot be taken to the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Home. After police dropped off the 11-year-old at his parent’s house, he took off running, but was quickly caught again and left in the custody of his parents.”

Asked what she thought of the children being returned to the parents and not being taken into custody, Garrett replied, “They should absolutely not be sent back to their parents! That’s where they got the gun. The 11-year-old specifically told me, and told the cops, that’s where he got the gun – from his dad. Both the eleven-year-old and the seven-year-old told us that.”

Police arrested this man, 34-year-old Joseph Daniel Charlton – the father of the boys accused of attempting armed robbery.

Takes father into custody
On December 11, Portland Police Bureau’s Gun Task Force served a search warrant on the house directly east of the church, at 16111 SE Alder Street.

“The Gun Task Force has arrested 34-year-old Joseph Daniel Charlton on multiple charges, in connection with his 11-year-old son possessing a firearm during an armed robbery,” Simpson said.

Oregon Department of Human Services took a 4-year-old girl into protective custody at the residence, and later took a 9-year-old boy and the 11-year-old robbery suspect into protective custody at different locations, Simpson stated. “All three are siblings.”

Simpson referred to Charlton as a “convicted felon” and said he was charged with Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Endangering the Welfare of a Minor, and Endangering a Child by Allowing Access to a Firearm (a City of Portland Code violation).

Charlton was booked into the Multnomah County Detention facility at 2:44 p.m. on December 11, with combined bail set at $10,000. He was arraigned on the following day, where he offered a “not guilty” plea. As of this writing, he remains in custody.

The boy – who a juvenile court counselor says is a “threat to the community and his alleged victims” – isn’t living here, in this Centennial neighborhood house now…but he’s not in juvenile detention, either.

Not first offence
In Multnomah County Juvenile Court, it came out that the 11-year-old also stood accused of alleged robbery and harassment at school on November 15 – in addition to the new carjacking incident, in which he is charged with first-degree and second-degree robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm.

When the prosecutor pointed out this was the second serious offence in about three weeks, the boy’s mother stated that her son “isn’t dangerous”.

David Riley, a Multnomah County juvenile court counselor, retorted that the boy was a threat to the community and his alleged victims – especially because he returned to the scene of attempted carjacking the following day – caught on TV news cameras as they interviewed Garrett.

Although Riley urged the court to send the boy to juvenile detention while they “make an appropriate safety plan”, criminal defense attorney Christopher A. McCormack from Brindle McCaslin & Lee, P.C., the youth’s lawyer, pointed out that the court had to provide written findings that doing so would be in the child’s best interest, because he was under 12 years of age.

In the end, Judicial Referee Lisa Fithian-Barrett ruled that the 11-year-old must stay in a foster home, and wear an electric-monitoring anklet at all times, among other conditions.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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