Employees at a Florida convenience store were badly shaken after an eight-year-old boy allegedly attempted an armed robbery at the retail outlet in West Palm Beach. The child is seen on store surveillance video, released by authorities to the media, walking into the establishment while wearing a BMX-type helmet and using a sweater to cover his mouth.
According to a clerk, the boy walked right up to the counter, pulled out a loaded 9mm handgun and demanded money. “He walked right up and said ‘Give me the money’” said store manager Roberto Espinal.
Another store employee saw the commotion and acted quickly to try to take the gun away from the child. “When I saw the kid pointing the gun at the cashier, I was just shocked…I didn’t know if it was a real gun or a fake gun. I just took his hand, twisted it, took the gun away from him and took it to the office,” he said. Employees then prevented the boy from escaping. Surveillance footage also shows the boy trying to break free after he was grabbed by the employee.
The employee stated that what amazed him the most was how confident the boy was while pointing the gun at him. “He’s just a little kid,” he said.
After the situation was brought under control, the West Palm Beach Police Department was called in.
According to authorities, the boy took the loaded handgun from his mother’s purse. The boy’s mother claims that he lied to her about where he was going and thought he was playing with friends.
“He said, ‘I’m going to go to the park.’ I told him to go ahead, and he gave me a hug,” the boy’s mother said. The woman then said that she noticed something was wrong as soon as her son left the house.
“When I grabbed my purse, it was so light,” she said. “I’m like, I knew I was missing something. I said, ‘Where’s my gun?’ The first thing I thought was, I hope (the child) don’t have my gun.”
Of course, we now know that he did. The boy rode his bicycle to the grocery store, and attempted an armed robbery, putting his own life and the lives of many other people at risk. It’s unclear why the mother didn’t act with more urgency when she realized her loaded firearm—and her eight-year-old son—were both missing.
According to investigators, the child was taken to the hospital after he told officers he wanted to kill himself. After undergoing a mental evaluation, he was taken to juvenile detention.
The eight-year-old, who is not being identified because of his age, was officially charged with attempted armed robbery with a firearm and aggravated assault on Friday, according to Detective Lori Colombino. He was booked into the juvenile assessment center after the charges were filed.
Customers of the store also said they were disturbed by the incident. “I don’t know why his mom even has a gun where a child can put his hands on it,” said one woman. “It doesn’t make sense. Anything could have happened. I’m just glad nobody got hurt.”
The child’s mother told several media outlets she wishes she had kept the gun locked up. It is unclear if any charges are being considered for the mother.
Officials say the incident is still under investigation.