A 17-year old in Austin, Texas with what police describe as an “extensive history” of aggravated robbery was shot by his intended victim this week. Police say that Jaylyn Reed, who was supposed to be on electronic monitoring, had a stolen gun on him when he tried to rob two people at an upscale outdoor mall in the Texas capital.
Little did Reed know that one of his intended victims had a gun of their own, and was prepared to use it in self-defense.
At 4:11 p.m. the suspect came up behind two people who were walking through a parking lot at 3400 Palm Way, which is in The Domain shopping center, according to an arrest affidavit. The victims told police he had a black shirt wrapped around his face and pointed a gun at the two as he took a shopping bag and a backpack from one of them.
The suspect started getting into a car and pointed a gun at one of the victims who was yelling and walking toward him, the other pulled out a concealed pistol and shot the suspect.
According to an affidavit related to one of the people accused of being in the car, Reed dropped the gun he had at the scene. Police later said it was stolen.
The suspect left in the car, but didn’t get far before a passenger called 911 for help and police responded. The victims’ property was found in the vehicle, the affidavit said.
“Reed had been ordered by a Travis County Judge to wear an ankle monitor, which has been removed from his person,” the affidavit said.
Police say that Reed is a suspect in at least nine other robberies across the city over the past few weeks, along with one other juvenile and two 18-year old defendants. The case raises all kinds of questions, particularly since he had allegedly removed the electronic monitoring device that he was supposed to wear. Did the company that oversees the monitors alert authorities when it was cut off? Were police even aware? What good is electronic monitoring when the individual in question apparently isn’t being monitored at all?
The fact that a 17-year old can even have an “extensive history of aggravated robberies” is also a sign that the juvenile justice system needs a serious overhaul. I’m reminded of the dad who recently pleaded with authorities to give his own 14-year old son a tougher sentence after receiving just three weeks in juvenile detention after stealing nearly two dozen firearms along with his 11-year old brother.
“All they keep doing is keep giving him 21 days, 21 days, a slap on the wrist,” the boys’ father said.
His elder son thinks he can get away with it, he said.
“I want them to stick him in boot camp or some sort of place you know where he has to follow rules because I’m trying and it’s not working and I don’t want to hurt the boy but he tries to jump on me and everything,” their father said.
Their father said he believes his sons wanted the guns to rob people. But, he is scared they will wind up dead or killing someone else.
Records show the Cape Coral Police Department was called 13 times in the past year to the home of the two young brothers.
The father said some of those times were him calling the cops on his own sons.
The father confirmed what police said about the 14-year-old, that he’s got a criminal record.
But his younger son is often coerced into bad behavior by his older brother, the father said.
“I don’t know what to do,” the father said.
The goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation, not just incarceration, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to be successful at either, even when victims and the parents of the juvenile offenders themselves are pleading for more to be done.
While the senators who are trying to cobble together a package in response to the school shooting in Uvalde have discussed opening up juvenile records to background checks when adults under-21 purchase a firearm at retail, there’s been absolutely no discussion about the bigger problems in the juvenile justice system itself. Should Jaylyn Reed be able to legally purchase a firearm in a few months just because his extensive juvenile record won’t show up in a NICS check? Even many Second Amendment supporters would say “no, of course not,” but the bigger problem is that guys like Reed are racking up dozens of charges as teenagers because the system isn’t taking their crimes seriously. If the goal is to reduce crime and save lives, we need to be focused on offenders like Reed instead of trying to turn law-abiding gun owners into criminals through new, non-violent, possessory gun laws.