WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - DC Police Chief Robert Contee recently formed a Carjacking Task Force in response to the explosion of carjackings in the DC region over the past year. As more arrests come down, police are also seeing people as young as 16, 15 and 14-years-old be charged in these carjackings -- some suspects not even old enough to drive.
In one example, just this past weekend, D.C. police arrested two 14-year-olds and a 16-year-old for an attempted carjacking of a Lyft driver near 3rd and M Sts. NW. A police report says one of the suspects put a knife to the driver’s neck and said, "give me the keys." When the driver resisted, the kids ran away, only to be caught and identified later.
D.C. police reported 345 carjackings in 2020 and at least 45 by the first week of February.
In another example, D.C. police announced the arrest of a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old back on January 24th. The two were charged with assaulting people in three different incidents – one of which, ended in a carjacking. Montgomery County Police also connected the 14 and 15-year-old to two carjacking-related incidents in Chevy Chase, where a teen suspect was reported to have punched a driver in the face, trying to carjack their vehicle.
In Montgomery County, Detective Sargent Rob Grims told FOX 5 they had 14 carjackings since the start of the year. With the help of the task force, 9 arrests were made. More than half of those arrests so far (5 arrests) involve those 16-years-old and younger – according to Grims.
"I can just say that when you have people out of school with a lot more time on their hands, I think that’s a large part of it," said Grims, who also mentioned the financial hardship many families are going through in this pandemic.
Young people need to be engaged, that’s just the bottom line. They need to be engaged in proactive developmental activities with caring adults, that’s what school is. It’s certainly a factor," said DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services Director, Clinton Lacey.
There have also been other serious crimes in recent weeks involving young people. FOX 5 previously reported on a 14-year-old boy charged as an adult for the stabbing of a taxi driver in Prince George’s County. DC Police recently arrested a 14-year-old girl for using a dating app to rob people.
When it comes to carjackings, an FBI agent told FOX 5 on Monday, they are essentially dealing with three "buckets" of people engaging in this behavior. One has to do with the increase in deliveries during the pandemic and people targeting those drivers/cars to do things like joy ride. They do not have a plan.
"The second and more concerning aspects to a lot of these carjacking that the car is then utilized in another crime, such as a drive-by shooting or drive-by robbery. And then the third aspect, third bucket would be those individuals that are tasked to acquire a certain type of vehicle for the purposes for going to a chop shop," FBI Assistant Special Agent Robert Bornstein.
Bornstein emphasized how serious the charges are in these crimes and says there are multiple suspects, over 18-years-old, who crashed and are now being prosecuted through federal court for their crimes.
Going through D.C. police reports announcing carjacking arrests since January 1, 2021, there were at least 16 arrests made involving carjackings (one was an additional arrest for an incident over the summer). Of the 16 arrests involving a carjacking charge, at least 10 suspects were under the age of 18.
1. (Assault on police armed, 2 armed carjackings, armed robbery, 2 thefts) On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, 30-year-old Xavier Higgins, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with the above offenses.
2. (3 armed carjackings, receiving stolen property) On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, 18-year-old Zharmel Blount, of Southeast, DC, was arrested for an Unarmed Carjacking offense that occurred on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, in the 4000 block of Georgia Avenue, Northwest. CCN 21-002-768
3. (3 armed carjackings & receiving stolen property) On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, 18-year-old James Borum, of Southeast, DC, was arrested and charged with the above offenses.
4. (2 armed carjackings & 3 armed robberies) On Thursday, January 21, 2021, pursuant to a DC Superior Court custody order, a 14-year-old juvenile male, of Southeast, DC, was arrested and charged with the above offenses.
5. (Half St. SE) On Saturday, January 23, 2021, a 16-year-old juvenile male, of Southeast, DC, was arrested and charged with Armed Carjacking.
6. (Pennsylvania Ave. SE) On Tuesday, February 2, 2021, pursuant to a DC Superior Court arrest warrant, 23-year-old James Green, of Southeast, DC, was arrested and charged with Armed Carjacking (Gun).
7. (Robbery Brooks St. NE, unarmed carjacking Jefferson St. NW & unauthorized use of vehicle Locust Rd. NW) On Thursday, February 4, 2021, a 16-year-old juvenile male, of Northwest, DC, and a 15-year-old juvenile male, of Northeast, DC, were arrested and charged with the above offenses.
8. (Stolen auto 18th St. NW, robbery (force & violence) 9th St. NE, carjacking U St. NW) On Thursday, February 4, 2021, a 14-year-old juvenile female, of Northeast, DC, and a 15-year-old juvenile male, of Northwest, DC, were arrested and charged with the above offenses.
9. (Dating app suspect - 2 armed robberies & assault with dangerous weapon) On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, a 14-year-old juvenile female, of Northeast, DC, was arrested and charged with two counts of Armed Robbery (Gun) and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon (Gun).
10. (Additional arrest to July 28th, Piece St. Armed Carjacking) On Thursday, February 11, 2021, pursuant to a DC Superior Court arrest warrant, 20-year-old Damian Lea, of Northeast, DC, was arrested and charged with Armed Carjacking (Gun).
11. (2nd St. SE) On Wednesday, February 17, 2021, a 16-year-old juvenile female, of Southwest, DC, was arrested and charged with Armed Carjacking (Gun).
12. (49th St. NE) On Friday, February 19, 2021, 26-year-old Lawrence Cummings, of Northeast, DC, was arrested and charged with Unarmed Carjacking.
13. (M St. SW) On Saturday, February 20, 2021, two 14-year-old juvenile males, of Southeast, DC, were arrested and charged with Carjacking and Robbery. Additionally, a 16-year-old juvenile male, of Northeast, DC, was arrested and charged with Carjacking.