AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police say they’re looking for more teen suspects involved in a carjacking spree throughout Austin. They’re asking the community to be aware of their surroundings as they look to tie more people to the violent crimes.
“We’re having people that are having their car stolen by force in parking lots and they’re mostly happening in apartment complexes, people are coming or going from home and they’re being approached by anywhere from two to four males,” Detective Brad Herries with the Austin Police Department says.
So far, detectives confirm they’ve connected seven cases to the teens charged. Joseph Sauter was one of the victims; he lives in east Austin.
“Yeah I do feel lucky to be alive, I realized I was a finger twitch away from getting my head blown off,” Sauter said.
Sauter says he was headed to the YMCA on May 10. It was a Wednesday around 2 p.m.
“All of a sudden my door gets ripped open and I’m looking down the barrel of what appeared to me to be a 45,” Sauter remembers.
He noticed a chubby teen walking in the street seconds before the door opened, then another teen showed up with the gun, he says that’s when he jumped out of the car.
“In my car he’s backing down [my driveway], so right about [the end] are the people [that drive up]” Sauter says. “As soon as they slow down the kids stopped, they saw the gun and they started taking off and [the guy with a gun] fired a shot — a round at them as they left.”
Detectives say those responsible are 17 and under.
“It appears that some of these kids may not even be enrolled in school anymore so that may not be an issue,” Detective Herries says. “The reality is that when we have kids, they’re out of school, they’re going to have more opportunities to go and be kids and be mischievous and sometimes that crosses over from mischievous into criminal.”
One 17-year-old is being charged as an adult and with first degree felony assault.
“We’ve been stepping up our patrols in those areas and have units out trying to keep these young men and perpetrators from continuing this,” Detective Herries says.
Detective Herries says juveniles are more likely to commit crimes like stealing cars because they believe they will just get a slap on the wrist. If the case is serious enough, teenagers could spend time in jail.
Minors are housed within the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to start serving their time and they can remain their until their 19th birthday. If their sentence exceeds that, they are moved to adult prison.
The sentence only goes past their 19th birthday if they’ve committed a felony.
In 2013, Texas lawmakers approved sentencing for minors who commit capital crimes, they face life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.