Would-be robbery victim shoots 13-year-old suspect

A 13-year-old suspect was shot in the hand and later arrested by

This was one casino employee who had no problem dealing a bad
hand. A would-be robbery victim pulled a gun from his car – instead
of reaching for his wallet – and shot a 13-year-old in the hand
during a bizarre early morning incident Tuesday outside a downtown
Gilroy card club.
This was one casino employee who had no problem dealing a bad hand.

A would-be robbery victim pulled a gun from his car – instead of reaching for his wallet – and shot a 13-year-old in the hand during a bizarre early morning incident Tuesday outside a downtown Gilroy card club.

The suspect was arrested and turned over to his mother, and now the would-be victim – who’s likely to not face any charges – has been asked to lie low as police search for two other assailants they believe played roles in the bungled robbery attempt.

When officers responded to reported gunshots around 2:25 a.m. Tuesday in front of the Garlic City Club on Hornlein Court off Monterey Road, a no-worse-for-wear employee told police he was approached by three suspects – two of them brandishing firearms – who demanded money, according to the Gilroy Police Department.

But the man pulled a 9 mm pistol, not cash, from his vehicle and fired at the suspects, hitting the armed 13-year-old in the hand, GPD Sgt. Wes Stanford said.

The three suspects then ran from the area, and a Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputy corralled the 13-year-old near Forest and Serafino streets while police scoured the casino parking lot for evidence.

The arrested suspect, a 5-foot-6-inch Hispanic male, was treated and released from Saint Louise Regional Hospital and was later interviewed and arrested for attempted armed robbery, according to the GPD.

After conferring with the county’s juvenile probation department – and due to the suspect’s injuries and cooperation with the investigation – the suspect was released to the custody of his mother pending additional court proceedings, police said.

Stanford said he was concerned the 13-year-old was too quickly released back into the community.

“I believe that once a person, even a 13-year-old person, uses a gun to rob an innocent citizen they should be treated harshly by the justice system,” Stanford said. “However, that is not the current state of the juvenile justice system, and those decisions are beyond the control of the Gilroy Police Department.”

He said the suspect was lucky to walk away with merely a hand wound.

“I believe this particular juvenile offender should treat each of the rest of his days on this Earth as a special gift because he could have very easily been killed by the particular victim he and his cohorts targeted …” Stanford said.

The suspect’s identity is not being released due to his age. The other two suspects are still at large and an investigation is ongoing, Stanford said.

One is described as a white or Hispanic male, approximately 18-years-old, 5-feet, 5-inches tall and roughly 120 pounds. He was wearing a dark blue hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans, Stanford said. The other is described as white or Hispanic male, approximately 18-years-old, 5-feet, 5-inches tall, with an unknown weight. He was wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt and unknown colored pants.

Stanford wouldn’t comment on the possible relationship between the three suspects because of the active investigation. He said he wouldn’t reveal how close the GPD was to finding the two at-large suspects or what, if any, information the 13-year-old had given police.

As of Thursday, no other arrests had been made.

“These kids, at two, three in the morning – they should be sleeping,” casino owner Ky Phuon said.

Phuon said Tuesday evening he knew which employee shot the suspect, but added that employee didn’t want to speak to reporters. Employees at Garlic City Club said the employee was not working when the Dispatch requested interviews Tuesday and Wednesday night. He has been asked by police to “take a few weeks off” from his job, Phuon said.

An employee who did not want to give her name, said Tuesday she had “no idea” an attempted robbery or shooting had occurred, and believed everyone had left the casino around 2 a.m.

The casino’s sign along Monterey Road states the business is open 24 hours a day, but she said the club will sometimes close if there aren’t many guests.

She said the casino has had to eject rowdy players on rare occasions in the past, but she could never recall someone being robbed. She said the suspects should have known better than to try to rob someone who may have been a casino employee.

“Did they think they wouldn’t be armed?” she said.

The victim, who was not harmed, won’t face weapons charges, Stanford said.

The employee “did not break any laws relating to storage or possession or discharge of his firearm,” said Stanford.

Sgt. Chad Gallacinao said the employee does not have a concealed weapons permit on file with the GPD, however, he is not a resident of Gilroy and wouldn’t be required to do so.

Gallacinao said he couldn’t reveal where the employee was from because of the active investigation. He said it was against the law for Gilroy residents to carry firearms without a concealed permit. Residents at least 21 years old looking to obtain a concealed permit must submit applications to Gilroy Police Chief Denise Turner, he said.

Applicants must be free of any criminal charges that would disqualify them from carrying a weapon, submit three letters of reference and be of “high moral character,” according to the GPD policy manual.

Stanford said police had not recovered either of the alleged firearms carried by the suspects.

Anyone with information regarding this incident can contact GPD Detective Mike Bolton at 846-0335 or anonymously at 800-782-7463.

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