Police in Texas believe a group of children—ranging in age from 11 to 14—are behind a rash of violent crimes which have left one Houston neighborhood on edge.
KTRK reported that police think the boys have been victimizing residents in and around one Houston neighborhood for the past four months. So far, law enforcement has identified six juvenile suspects who they’ve either arrested or plan to arrest by the end of the week.
One of the group’s alleged victims, Ray Johnson, 76, said he was out for an evening walk in his Westbury neighborhood on September 9 when the suspects beat him with his own cane, pointed a gun at him, and demanded money. Johnson said he was able to scream, which alerted two neighbors to what was going on. The boys then ran off, according to the news station.
The boys allegedly pistol-whipped Johnson in the back of his head. The 76-year-old reportedly suffered injuries to his hand as he tried to defend himself.
“I prayed for those kids that night,” Johnson, a former Boy Scouts leader, told the news station.
“There is hope for them. These kids just need a little guidance and a little love. There’s hope for them. I love them all.”
The Houston Chronicle reported that police arrested three juveniles in the week following Johnson’s attack. They believe the six boys carried out a series of aggravated robberies, carjackings, and thefts which have all occurred within a one-mile radius.
In most of the robberies, Constable Ted Heap said the boys would first ask the victim for change.
“At that point, when you take your eyes off them, they will assault you, strike you, steal your vehicle,” he explained.
Officers arrested two boys, ages 11 and 12, Sunday when they allegedly caught them and two other boys stealing a gas can from a lawn company. The pair who were apprehended said they were going to use the gas to torch a car they stole in an aggravated robbery four hours earlier. KTRK reported that the carjacking victim was also injured.
Law enforcement noted that the boys are in school and would commit the crimes after school or on weekends. Heap revealed they’re investigating whether the suspects were responsible for 26 criminal incidents which date back to May 2017.
Heap said something that’s especially concerning is the reason the two tweens gave for assaulting people: “We did it for kicks.”
Though the suspects’ identities are being withheld due to their age, Heap assured the public that charges are forthcoming.
[Featured image: Ray Johnson/Harris County Precinct 5]