Wednesday, October 22, 2003

'Scrunci bandit' suspect arrested

Girl charged in attacks

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Decked out in Capri pants and bobby socks, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, the 14-year-old girl blended in with the other high school and college kids who roam Short Vine in Corryville every day.

But police say the girl was the leader of a loose-knit band of kids known for smashing windows, shouting obscenities and punching strangers.

The girl was in juvenile court Tuesday after her father reported her to police as a runaway and helped officers chase her down.

"I told her I was fitting to turn her in," her dad said Tuesday, adding he does not believe she committed a crime, but he wants to get the matter cleared up. "She ran, and I called 911."

Because of the girl's age, the Enquirer is not naming her or her father. But police and neighbors say she is well-known in Corryville as a troublemaker.

She's been cited numerous times in juvenile court and now faces a litany of new charges, ranging from felonious assault to aggravated menacing. Usually, police say, she is released soon after she is arrested.

"She's been in and out of juvenile court so much, she's never really been punished," said Officer Alex Hasse, the neighborhood officer for Corryville who assisted in the girl's arrest Monday afternoon.

"She's lost all respect for authority," he said. "She thought she could do whatever she wanted without any consequences."

Police said the girl was one of several teenagers, mostly girls, who hung out on Short Vine and harassed passersby.

Although no one was ever seriously hurt, neighbors say the teens stood on the sidewalk and shouted obscenities, threw bottles and rocks and, on occasion, snuck up behind people and punched them.

Victims were often shocked to see that their attackers were children. The girl who was in court Tuesday is 5-foot, 4-inches tall.

Victoria Lore, owner of Acme Body Piercing on Short Vine, said she saw the girl kicking in a storefront window. Lore said the girl was wearing nice clothes and bobby socks and had her hair pulled back with a ponytail tie called a Scrunci. Although the other girls ran, she stood by and watched as Lore called the police.

"It was surreal," Lore recalled. "It's like the Scrunci bandits."

The girl's father, who does not live with the family, said he went to their house in Corryville on Monday after learning the girls were wanted by police.

"I was trying to make sure my daughter wasn't hurt," he said. "If she did do it, she wasn't doing it by herself."

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