PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. - Officers found a teenager sleeping with an AR-15-style rifle in his bed after receiving a call from a concerned relative inside the house.
The teen was arrested without incident over the weekend as officers entered the suspect’s bedroom armed and with a shield. Police said the suspect was sleeping on his back at the time.
On Tuesday, a relative told FOX 5 they don’t know where the 15-year-old got the firearm from. The relative declined to interview, concerned the incident could be gang-related.
That relative did tell FOX 5 multiple times that they feel "the system" needs to be more strict on teens, and they’re not getting enough help to deal with the 15-year-old.
Hyattsville City police said they received a 911 call a little after 8 p.m. on Sunday for the report of a teen armed.
A relative at the home at the time was described on police radio as "afraid" and "hiding currently."
Photo Credit: Hyattsville Police Department
Police recovered a short-barreled AR-15-style rifle with a 30-round magazine connected that contained two .223 and .556 rounds. A serial number could not be located because it was covered with a black glue-like substance.
FOX 5 learned that Hyattsville police received at least 10 previous calls from the teen's residence. The calls were mostly for family disputes, disorderly conduct, and threats.
The relative who spoke with FOX 5 shared over six police business cards the family member says they’ve received every time police were called. Some of the cards appear to belong to the same responding officer. However, the relative said that despite calling police multiple times, the teen is never arrested.
FOX 5 asked both Hyattsville City Police and the Department of Juvenile Services about the teen’s history and how officials have responded.
A spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) told FOX 5 via email: "DJS does not comment on specific cases. In general, the Department receives almost all of its juvenile complaints through the police. This can either be through an arrest or through citation, for lower-level offenses. DJS conducts an intake meeting, reviewing the current charges, a youth's prior history, impact on the victim, and public safety to make an informed case handling decision. By law, DJS has several options in determining the outcome of juvenile complaints. Some charges are formalized and sent to the State's Attorney's Office. There are times when DJS will informal the case and the case does not go to the State's Attorney. The Department of Juvenile Services, the Police, and the State's Attorney's Office all play a vital role in the juvenile justice system."
FOX 5 also asked the Hyattsville Police Department how many times they’ve referred the teen to DJS:
"This is a story about the parent doing the right thing to keep everyone safe," said City of Hyattsville Police Chief Jarod Towers in a Tuesday night statement, "We have been in touch with this young man and his family in the past, and in each instance, we have done everything in our power to encourage him to make better choices. We are grateful this incident was quickly and peacefully resolved. Because he is a juvenile, we cannot make any additional statements about our engagement with him."
The Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office is charging the teen as a juvenile. He faces charges including being under the age of 21 and in possession of a firearm, and altering the gun’s serial number.