Police in California are investigating an attempted armed robbery at an ARCO gas station in Stockton involving a suspect who is a sixth-grader.
The suspect allegedly pointed a gun at one of the gas station employees and demanded the contents of the cash register. The customers at the ARCO gas station said the robbery was surprising and unexpected considering the age of the alleged robber, whom the police suspect to be around 11 years old.
"It’s ridiculous I couldn't believe it," said James Ratto, one of the gas station employees. "It’s sad to see someone of this age try to commit something like this."
Ratto also added that his co-worker didn't open the cash register when the suspect pointed a gun at her, and instead the co-worker shouted to get the attention of another employee. The would-be robber got frightened and left.
The suspect escaped on a skateboard and was last seen wearing a gray hoodie and carrying a black and white backpack. The boy used a purple bandana to hide his face while he was in the gas station.
The robbery was caught on surveillance video. "We can always see what is happening here," Ratto said.
Surveillance video from outside at the gas station shows the boy entered the store on his skateboard. He didn’t pick anything up from the store, he just pulled out his gun and pointed it at a female clerk. She was staring at a child pointing a gun at her.
The ARCO station staff wants to track the boy down and help in changing his life before he gets into more trouble.
"I am sure this was his first time thinking of doing it, but hopefully he won’t try it again," Ratto added.
Police are also surprised and expressed their disbelief at the incident. Speaking of the incident, Joe Silva of the Stockton Police Department said that it is always a great concern when they have a case involving a child and a gun. He also said that this case is interesting because of how bold the suspect was.
Silva added that the parents of the child could still face charges, especially if they allowed their son access to a firearm.
Customers and neighbors of the gas station are also dismayed by the incident, and one noted that there should be no way a kid of that age should be granted permission to have a gun or even get near a gun.
Lui Mafi, a mentor who works with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, would like to know the state of the suspect’s family before they start criticizing and condemning the boy.
He would like to know whether the child was stealing to help the family with a problem.
"My question is how he acquired the gun and how we can help him," Mafi said. "Before we make any judgments on an 11-year-old boy let’s make sure we understand what happened before he walked to that store and made the decision he made," he added.
Police are still looking for the suspect.