I-TEAM: Local kids as young as 7 years old getting charged for felony crimes

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CLEVELAND (WJW) -- The I-TEAM has found local kids still in elementary school getting arrested for felony crimes.

Last week, we revealed teens as young as 13 years old were hauled in by Cleveland police after a series of carjackings and robberies at gunpoint.

That led us to do some digging.

We learned this year in Cuyahoga County, felony charges have been filed against 68 suspects just 13 years old.

We also saw 65 more suspects even younger, 9 to 12 years old.

Over the past few years, records show four kids charged with felony crimes at only 7 years old.

“To be honest with you, it’s kinda sad this is the path they’ve chosen. You don’t expect to park in a parking lot, to be confronted with this kind of situation," a victim of the recent teen carjacking ring told us.

A new program that just started in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court hopes to stop this problem. The goal is to get more help to kids the first time they go before a judge.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors also now trying to push more of the the most violent teens into adult court. That opens them up to stiffer punishment.

Prosecutor Michael O’Malley has said the trend has been younger and more violent criminals.

We met the grandmother of two teens caught up in the carjacking ring. She blames peer pressure.

“Follow the leader. Follow the leader. Both of them. That’s the only thing they do. Got to hang out with the big boys," she said.

That victim we met knows fighting the problem won’t be as easy as one thing that went through his mind when he was confronted.

“Frankly, part of me wished I could’ve had the courage to say, ‘You want to come in? Get a bite to eat and reconsider what you’re doing?” he said.

 

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