Gun-wielding robber, 13, sent home to mommy

It’s bad enough to read that a 13-year-old packing a gun was
involved in an armed robbery in downtown Gilroy outside a card club
at 2:25 a.m. What’s worse, though, is to read in the same story
that the boy was caught, then quickly released into the custody of
his mother by a juvenile justice system which doesn’t understand
what

major crime

means.
It’s bad enough to read that a 13-year-old packing a gun was involved in an armed robbery in downtown Gilroy outside a card club at 2:25 a.m. What’s worse, though, is to read in the same story that the boy was caught, then quickly released into the custody of his mother by a juvenile justice system which doesn’t understand what “major crime” means.

What kind of message is that sending to the Gilroy Police Department, the city’s residents, the downtown merchants and the street thugs who enlist a child to help with their criminal dirty work?

For the thugs, it says, “Go find another impressionable wannabe and put a gun in his hand, no matter what happens he’ll just get a slap on the wrist.”

The Gilroy Police are obviously frustrated, and rightly so.

“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,” GPD Sgt. Wes Stanford said.

We couldn’t agree more. It’s far better to try to arrest this criminal behavior now and teach a tough lesson that, hopefully, stays learned. Doing time in jail can be a reality check for kids who think that prison life is somehow glamorous.

Instead, everything has “worked out” for the youngster – everything that is except for the fact that he was shot in the hand by an employee of the card club who turned the tables on the three would-be robbers. But is that lesson enough, or is the bandaged hand merely a badge of neighborhood honor?

In this case it’s fortunate that the boy’s mother didn’t have to identify her son’s body at the Santa Clara County coroner’s office. The card club employee could have killed him, so could the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputy who apprehended him near Forest and Serafino streets.

The juvenile justice system is entrusted with a weighty responsibility in a case with such potentially life-altering consequences. In this case, it failed. Whether a longer incarceration would have had a positive impact on the 13-year-old cannot be known. Maybe getting shot while in the commission of a crime will have a positive impact in the long term.

Regardless, the juvenile justice system should function on behalf of society, both as a deterrent and as a court where retribution for offenses committed is required.

The 13-year-old’s speedy release satisfied neither requirement.

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