Lori Fullbright, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa Police believe a boy as young as 12 robbed a Tulsa convenience store. They say kids with guns are a disturbing trend that's getting worse.
The Savings Spot convenience store on east 21st street in Tulsa was robbed Wednesday night. The clerk is guessing, by the way the robber looked and how he sounded, he's maybe 12 to 14 years old.
"This male came in, masked up, talking big, but sounding young," Sergeant Dave Walker, Tulsa Police, said.
The 12-year-old keeps the gun pointed at the clerk, while demanding the cash, which he gets.
People ask, how does a 12 year old get a gun? Police say they steal them in burglaries or get them from an older friend or sibling, some just find them at home.
How ever they are getting them, so many now seem to have them, it no longer shocks police.
"It's a shame we're not shocked," Sergeant Walker said. "You're right, we are seeing younger people. It's a trend. Kids getting guns and doing something with them. It's a little disheartening."
It's not new. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright did a story in 2001 of a 13-year-old and 14-year-old robbing a Tulsa store, holding a gun to the clerk's stomach and grabbing the money.
And, another one in 1999, of kids as young as 13 years old and 15 years old were caught in a stolen car, filled with 18 rifles and handguns they'd stolen, after a police chase.
The problem is the situation is getting worse, despite new laws and new programs.
"Parents and kids themselves are going to have to take responsibility, that's the only way it's going to change. We can only have so many programs out there," Sergeant Walker said.
Sergeant Walker said maybe if the courts change how they deal with these young criminals with guns and put them away for a long time on the first offense, maybe then, kids will think twice.
So what happens if police catch this robber and he really is 12?
"If he is 12, we'll treat him like he's a robber, there's no other way to treat him," Sergeant Walker said.
Right now, kids doing gun crimes in the juvenile system can be kept in custody until they're 18.
Kids treated as youthful offenders can be kept until they're 19. They're not usually treated as adults until they're in their late teens; then they can be sent away for 20-30 years, even life, depending on the crime.
A lot of people agree that kids and gun violence is an epidemic, but few people agree on how to fix it.