Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson announced Thursday the formation of a “multi-component task force” that will use “overt and covert strategies” to disrupt and apprehend what police think may be two separate groups of armed teenagers plaguing the Green Hills neighborhood.
Police say the teens are responsible for auto thefts, violent carjackings, shootings, and personal robberies over the past several days.
“Nashville and its police department will not tolerate the violent gun crime being exhibited by these teens,” Chief Anderson said in a statement. “While we ramp up enforcement strategies, it is time for parents, extended families and other stakeholders to take notice of what is occurring and do their part to stop it.”
Authorities are careful to characterize the rash of teen crime as being perpertrated by “groups” and not “gangs,” though the spike in frequency and severity by the groups could indicate a higher level of organization.
“We have an issue right now with these young teenagers committing very violent crimes, and this police department is not going to put up with it,” said MNPD Spokesman Don Aaron told WSMV. “We’re arresting young people, teenagers with guns, one-by-one-by-one, but there are seemingly more to take their places.”
As an example of the kinds of cases authorities are pursuing, police point to 16-year old Isaiah Lewis in their statement.
West Precinct detectives charged Lewis with the robbery of a salon employee who was confronted while taking out the trash on Wednesday night by two armed black teenagers. They demanded her belongings and pistol whipped her when she refused.
He is also being charged with two counts of aggravated robbery by East Precinct detectives. About a half-hour after the salon employee robbery, he is allegedly took part in the robbery of a woman at as she was getting into her vehicle.
Roughly forty minutes later, Lewis is alleged to have robbed another woman in the 3900 block of Gallatin Pike as she was walking to her car.
The teen was apprehended in the early hours Thursday after Madison Precinct officers spotted a stolen stolen car. When the officers approached the vehicle, the five teenagers inside fled in multiple directions. Although four of the teens escaped, Lewis was caught and arrested. In their search of the stolen vehicle, officers collected several pieces of evidence they believe will connect Lewis to the robberies, including a pisol.
Investigations are ongoing in three other cases in the Green Hills and surrounding areas last night, including:
– the shooting of a 32-year-old man outside the Green Hills Library on Benham Avenue. That victim reported that he was approached by two armed black teenagers who demanded his property. He complied, yet was shot in the upper abdomen.
– the robbery of a 29-year-old man by two teenagers with guns as he walked along Horton Avenue near Capers Avenue. After getting his belongings, the teens fled on foot.
– the robbery of a man and woman, ages 25 and 28, by two gun-carrying teens with similar descriptions who demanded their belongings. They complied and the teens fled from them on foot.
West Precinct detectives are also continuing the investigation into Monday’s shooting of a 26-year-old man during an attempted robbery and whether it is related to the other robberies.
In that case, the victim’s car was struck from behind by a dark gray sedan. When the victim got out to check on the damage, the gunman, described as a black teenager, got out of the passenger side of the gray car and demanded his belongings. It appears the victim was shot as he attempted to push away from the gunman.
Meanwhile, detectives are on the lookout for 14-year-old Rico Ransom, the suspect in last Friday afternoon’s shooting of Demario Crowder outside Pearl-Cohn High School.
The police department says they are becoming increasingly alarmed by the callous and hyperviolent actions and attitudes of suspected teenage criminals.
In the statement announcing the task force, Metro Police cited a recent encounter with a 15-year-old suspect:
At 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, a 15-year-old who was preparing to gas up a car that was taken earlier this month in an armed carjacking attempted to draw a fully loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol on an approaching East Precinct Flex officer. The officer struggled with the 15-year-old over the gun, ultimately gaining control of it. The teen ran and was apprehended a short time later by another officer. The 15-year-old and a 17-year-old who remained in the passenger seat of the car remain under investigation in regard to other crimes.
On Wednesday afternoon, two West Precinct officers, who had just transported a 15-year-old alleged burglar to juvenile detention, were told by the teen, “I empty my Glock when I see you on my block.” One of the officers asked him what he meant. The teen replied, “I’m going to empty my Glock into your car and (other officer’s name) car and kill your families.” (emphasis added)
WSMV sent reporters to the Green Hills neighborhoods to get their reaction to the wave of violent crime that has flooded their community:
Annette Barkley lives and works in the Green Hills area.
“I’m very concerned,” Barkley said. “A lot of gunpoint robberies, held at gunpoint, carjackings…it’s sad, it’s very sad what it’s coming to.”
At the Hobbs House condominiums in Green Hills, residents received a notice warning them about Friday night’s armed robberies and steps they should take to help protect themselves.
“If you are distracted, then people look for that,” Barkley said. “There are predators out there, they have no respect for you or your property.”