MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – It is still shocking for most.
“I’m just haunted by the sight of a 12-year-old, holding a gun, trying to commit a carjacking,” said Michael Rallings, Memphis Police Department Director.
However, it is real, and it happened. Tuesday afternoon, a woman was putting groceries in her car. She was in the parking lot of Kroger on Poplar Avenue in East Memphis.
Police say a 12-year-old boy came up, pointed a gun, and demanded her vehicle.
“He didn’t look like a 12-year-old. He wasn’t built like a 12-year-old,” said Nick Borchart, a witness.
Borchart was coming out the store after shopping for an anniversary card for his wife. That is when he saw what was happening.
“They were scuffling – the lady and the kid. He grabbed the keys out of her hand, pushed her out the way, and jumped in the car,” said Borchart.
He went over to help. Another man came as well. The second man was carring a gun of his own, which Borchart said shocked the kid.
“He looked scared. The two things I remember him saying is ‘If I give you my gun, will you please let me go.’ Then he said, ‘I’ve got a child at home. Please let me go’,” said Borchart.
The boy then tried to escape the vehicle.
“He had turned to look over at the guy that was pointing the gun at him. I opened the car door, grabbed him by the neck, pulled him out of the car, and got him on the ground,” said Borchart. “I’m 230 pounds and it took everything I had for me to get him out of that car.”
They held him down until police arrived.
Rallings said, “We should really thank those citizens because what if that 12-year-old would have pulled the trigger?”
Borchart said, “No need to thank me. I think anybody that has a heart or be willing to help would do the same thing.”
Many still can’t believe the person behind the crime was a 12-year-old.
“And he was only 12-years-old? That’s insane,” said Gail Churinetz, a shopper.
“They’re kind of young. 12-years-old? That’s a baby,” said Vivian McGaughy, a driver.
Some thanked the witnesses for their quick action.
“I think that it shows that we are really a tight community and people are willing to sacrifice themselves to help people that need it,” said Mary Ayott, another shopper.
“If you see something, act on it. You never really know. That lady could have been hurt. It could have been a different circumstance,” said Aliana Zavala, a California resident visiting Memphis.
That is why Rallings said they have to find the root of the problem.
“Me and the District Attorney, Amy Weirich, were talking about what we could do to help that 12-year-old because the act is one thing, but the symptom of why is a 12-year-old out in a parking lot committing a carjacking should alarm all of us,” said Rallings.
He said that alarm should signal a proactive approach.
“We have to meet these young men, these young women, where they are and try to help them see that there’s more to life than what they may have seen,” said Rallings.