Teen Carjackers Get Away With Their Crimes, Even After They're Arrested

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

When Tennessee lawmakers return to Nashville in a couple of months for the start of the 2024 legislative session, gun control is going to dominate the headlines. Republican governor Bill Lee all but guaranteed that would happen by calling a special session earlier this year, then limiting the topics up for discussion to exclude almost every gun control proposal from Democrats. Instead of voting down the anti-gun measures in a high-profile setting like a special session, the GOP decide to punt on dealing with gun control legislation until the next regular session.


While Democrats are going to be calling for things like “red flag” laws, bans on so-called assault weapons, and raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21, Republicans who want to show they’re serious about cracking down on crime while respecting the Second Amendment rights of responsible citizens should start by addressing the serious problems in the juvenile justice system, which is routinely spitting violent offenders back onto the street with little supervision and very few consequences for their actions.

Take a carjacking spree allegedly committed by four teens in Memphis earlier this year. As WREG-TV reports, despite multiple victims offering eyewitness testimony, the teens who were arrested either had their charges dismissed or took a sweetheart plea deal.

“I was going to my mother’s house to pickup her dog, because she was out of town,” Alex Canale said. “And as I was about to get out of the car, I saw four gunmen with one gun pointed right at my head outside of the driver’s side window.”

The next moments are haunting.

“I threw the car in reverse. Ran over a brick pillar. Ripped the back of the car up,” he said.

Canale dialed 911 as another home security camera captured him trying to escape, and the gunmen close behind.

“You are terrified. Literally terrified,” he said.

The security camera then captured an even scarier noise — several gunshots.

“I’m crouched down hoping nothing hits me. I had one come right over my ear and come right over the headboard right above my head. That’s the bullet my son found the next day,” Canale said.

Canale was the third victim. He was followed by an armed robbery in Hickory Hill where that victim told police she saw AR-style rifles hanging out of the getaway car.

Police made an arrest the next day.

Canale said he was devastated when he heard their ages.

Through Shelby County Juvenile Court and police records, we learned a 16-year-old was charged with motor vehicle theft. A 14-year-old was nabbed for theft and a gun charge. Another 14-year-old and a 17-year-old were charged with attempted second degree murder, three counts of aggravated robbery and two counts of carjacking.

They were put on ankle monitors and sent home.

“I heard nothing. I physically had to call Juvenile Court and figure out the process,” Canale said.


It sounds like the two teens facing the less serious charges had their cases dropped outright, while the teens who were charged with attempted second degree murder, aggravated robbery, and carjacking were offered a plea deal that doesn’t sit right with Canale: 90 days wearing an ankle monitor, a few hours of community service, and a class “that aims to divert youth caught with a gun.”

They also had to enter Youth Villages’ SWITCH program, where clinical specialists and life coaches team up to help high-risk youth.

Canale calls that a slap on the wrist.

“I believe in the Youth Villages’ program. I am also a realist,” he said. “I believe if there is no actionable defense of the criminal activity, then it doesn’t matter what class you go through.”

Three months on an ankle monitor after shooting at the people they intended to carjack? This is absolute lunacy.

I understand that the goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation, not incarceration, but there still needs to be a balance between the two when teens are convicted or plead guilty to serious violent offenses. That’s sorely lacking, not only in this case but across the board.

What gun control law would have made a difference here? An age-based gun ban? At 17, even the oldest of the teens in question is too young to legally purchase a gun. A ban on so-called assault weapons? Even if a ban somehow magically got rid of every semi-automatic rifle in existence (which isn’t going to happen), these teens would have just used a handgun instead.


Forget about fighting crime by turning lawful gun owners into criminals. We need a drastic overhaul of the juvenile justice system instead.

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