I-TEAM: Investigators say there could be more suspects linked to west side violent crime spree

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM is taking you inside the investigation into a violent crime spree carried out by teens targeting some of Northeast Ohio’s hottest neighborhoods.

The I-TEAM revealed early Monday that the suspects included teens as young as 13. Now, we’ve learned police arrested two 13-year-olds, a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutors say they’ve tied the four to cases in Cleveland’s Tremont and Ohio City sections and in Lakewood. Carjackings, robberies and at least one sex assault. Prosecutors believe there may be more suspects and more crimes related to the existing cases.

The I-TEAM has learned that one big break in the case came when investigators spotted teens running from a stolen car that had crashed. Cleveland Police caught a 13-year-old. Reports show that 13-year-old had a wallet stolen from a woman in another case.

We met the grandmother of two of the suspects, brothers, ages 13 and 16. We asked how those teens may have gotten tied up in this.

The grandmother said, “Once they’re out, you don’t know what they’re doing.”

She thinks peer pressure may have been involved. She added, “Follow the leader. Follow the leader both of them. That’s the only thing they do. Got to hang out with the big boys, so…”

The I-TEAM also looked into the backgrounds of the young suspects. We discovered that some already had a record with Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, including one of the 13-year-old kids. He already had cases dating back years.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor released video of one attack. Teens are seen confronting a man with a gun as he walked from a parking lot to a restaurant. He gave up his keys and the teens drove off in his SUV.

“The whole incident happened very quickly. Quite frankly, there wasn’t any time to react,” the victim told the I-TEAM. “The whole goal was to get out of that situation. They requested the keys. I handed them the keys. They took it and walked away.”

Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said this crime spree falls in line with a trend of younger, violent criminals.

“Those type of numbers are staggering,” he said. “To individuals who are choosing to use guns and carjack people–and 5 of these 6 crimes were carjackings—we will track you down.”

That victim we met realizes he’s a survivor. He said, “To be honest with you, it’s kinda sad.”

As of late Wednesday, investigators were still working to prepare more charges and analyze other similar crimes.

Continuing coverage, here.

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