Added: 8 months ago
Police said the 16-year-old driver of a stolen Hyundai laughed as Whitehall officers pulled him out of the car, moments after he tried to ram their cruisers to get away.
"These juveniles are not concerned with the ramifications to their actions," Deputy Chief Dan Kelso said. "They think this is funny.”
Whitehall police said an officer observed a 2018 Blue Hyundai Elantra shortly after 8 p.m. Monday heading northbound on South Hamilton Road.
The car was reported stolen from Grove City, according to Whitehall police.
Officers noted it had already fled from Grove City police, so police waited until the car parked to corner it.
At the Turkey Hill convenience store at 721 South Hamilton Road, three cruisers blocked the car. Video released by police shows the driver ramming the cruisers in an attempt to get away.
Only at gunpoint with no escape did the 16-year-old driver give up. Officers also detained three passengers, ages 15, 12, and 13.
“It’s a really dangerous situation," Kelso said. "Could hit an officer, can hit a citizen."
The stolen car damaged another unoccupied car and the police cruisers while attempting to flee.
The unoccupied car belongs to Don Hairston, who works inside the Turkey Hill where the incident happened. He witnessed the situation while on the clock and saw the teen driver laugh as police arrested him.
“They wasn’t trying to stop, and they was not listening," Hairston said. "He didn’t care at all. He had no care in the world. The way he was acting and how he was doing, you can tell he didn’t care. He didn’t care about his own life."
Police said the group is suspected of stealing another car earlier that day.
“Unfortunately this has become all too common in Franklin County and the greater Columbus area,” Kelso said. “We struggle to balance the danger the juveniles create for our citizens while driving these stolen cars, with the danger and havoc they create when we try to take them into custody for their crimes."
In these situations, Kelso said it's the authorities' goal to stop the teens from hurting anyone, but it's not always easy to decide how to do that.
“If you chase them, we got a 12, 13, 14-year-old that has done nothing but watch Grand Theft Auto and thinks he can drive everywhere but doesn’t maybe understand the ramifications of his actions, and he’s gonna crash and kill people," he said. "Versus do we just let that go and hope that they don’t crash and kill somebody. We have to take some kind of action to stop that before that happens."
Either way, Kelso said the teens respond the same way when they're stopped by police.
“We get almost in every case one of them makes a flippant comment that I’ll be out tomorrow," he said. "I’ll be out tonight. In fact a few months ago we actually took a group of them out to jail, they walked right out, stole a staff member's car. There seems to be no remorse whatsoever or care on their part.”
According to Kelso, police, parents, and the court system need to work together to stop this from continuing to happen.
“I’d like them to be able to reflect back and think that if it was their mom, their dad, their relative, their sister, but unfortunately from what we’re seeing, even in an earlier situation in Columbus today, I don’t think they care," he said.
“I don’t know if the parents are involved or not, but something needs to happen because it’s like kids are dying," Hairston said. "Like they’re gonna keep doing it. You know what I mean? It’s sad."
Kelso also noted the supply chain issues involved with fixing damaged cruisers.