DALLAS - A Dallas couple terrified by teenage armed robbers is demanding the group be treated like adults. Otherwise, they fear those young criminals will be back on the streets.
Garrett and Caroline Scharton posted on Facebook that according to Dallas Police Department investigators, the gang of suspects who attacked them in Oak Cliff on July 22 could only face probation if tried as juveniles.
The suspects range in age from 13 to 16 years old. Surveillance video shows three of them jumping out of a car and swarming the couple with a shotgun and at least one pistol.
Those suspects were later caught in Mesquite. They were then accused of committing at least three other aggravated robberies.
“Our view, my view is that they should be tried as adults because they committed an adult crime. They acted, they committed a type of, traumatic violent crime to me my wife and my dog where I don't think age is an excuse,” Garrett Scharton said.
Community members have decided to take action, creating a petition that requests Dallas juveniles be tried as adults. So far, it has nearly 1800 signatures.
FOX 4 spoke with the Dallas County Juvenile District Attorney Rhonda Hunter. She said a child can be certified as an adult but that is ultimately up to a judge on a case-by-case basis.
“We see an escalation in the seriousness of crimes that children are involved in and this is a very serious issued that we have to work on. Not just the DA’s office but the entire system in our society in terms of what we are providing in order to prevent children from committing crimes,” she said.
“I don’t want to destroy anyone’s life. These are kids at the end of the day. But they’re violent kids and what they did was commit several felonies in a very short amount of time. They need to be punished for that,” said Caroline Scharton.
A group of people joined the couple at a community meeting in Deep Ellum Tuesday night to talk about public safety and the juvenile justice system.
Shannon Scott organized the meeting and started a petition that now has almost 2,000 signatures to convince Dallas DA Faith Johnson to request the court to charge the juveniles as adults.
“It seems that everyone was complaining and saying that there needed change, but no one was doing anything about it,” Scott said. “So I started a petition.”
The Schartons also want more support for Dallas PD to help prevent crimes like this.
“We have the lowest compensated cops in the entire metroplex area,” Caroline said. “We’re down hundreds of officers from where we were in previous years while our population has grown in thousands.”
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata addressed the crowd.
“This is about citizens across the city of Dallas who pay taxes, and they deserve to be protected,” he said.
“It’s shocking. It’s scary,” Caroline said. “But it has to happen and someone has to do it.”
The Schartons met with their City Councilman Scott Griggs on Monday. They're requesting a meeting with the city manager and the Dallas police chief.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the DA’s office said the office prosecutes crimes seriously.