Saturday, March 6, 2004

Teens arrested in robberies

Foursome accused of thefts at gunpoint

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CORRYVILLE - Four teens, including an eighth-grader, were arrested Thursday night after two armed robberies in the neighborhoods around the University of Cincinnati's main campus.

Police hope the arrests end a month-long rash of street and ATM gunpoint holdups around the university. But authorities also said they wouldn't be surprised if another group of juveniles starts committing similar crimes. Such robberies are becoming commonplace in places such as University Heights, Corryville and Clifton.

"All of a sudden, we're running into an enormous amount of these,'' said Capt. Richard Schmalz, commander of District 4, where many of the robberies have happened.

The teens were arrested about 8:30 p.m. and admitted, Schmalz said, to holding up a 14-year-old on University Avenue. In that robbery, the suspects hit the victim on the head with a gun and stole his pink skullcap. The teens also admitted to taking a MasterCard from a 37-year-old Avondale man on Daniels Street about an hour later.

Arrested were a 14-year-old Bloom Junior High School student, a 15-year-old Woodward High School student, a 16-year-old Western Hills High School student and a 16-year-old eighth-grader at Heberle Elementary. They were charged with two counts of aggravated robbery. One teen was caught with a .22-caliber pistol. They remain in juvenile detention.

The arrests are the third time since Feb. 15 police said they've caught juveniles suspected in robberies.

Det. Kristen Shircliff, who is investigating eight of the robberies, said she believes a 14-year-old killed Feb. 15 was driving a stolen car as he sped from police and hit a tree. Officers found a gun in the car, which earlier had been stolen at a gas station in Clifton Heights.

Two juveniles were arrested Feb. 20 after Cincinnati and university police chased them from an attempted robbery at Daniels and Vine streets in Corryville. Police found a pellet gun near where those teens were arrested.

Virtually all the victims have described the robbers as young, Shircliff said, but usually not as young as 14.

"People just don't expect to be robbed by someone that young,'' she said.

UC's assistant police chief, Robert Rohrbach, sent a mass e-mail Friday to the campus, announcing the arrests, but advising students to remain cautious. He advised students to walk in groups when possible, take note of the locations of help phones, call for student escorts and use ATMs inside stores.


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