- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

The suspect in the attempted robbery of an Annapolis video store on Easter Monday was armed, defiant — and all of 7 years old, police and witnesses said.The boy, whom police did not identify because of his age, was charged with attempted armed robbery after using a toy gun to try to hold up the Annapolis Hollywood Video store Monday afternoon, said Officer Hal Dalton, spokesman for the Annapolis Police Department.”He certainly had words to the effect of ‘This is a robbery, this is a holdup,’ ” the officer said.Video store manager Vicky McLaughlin said the child, dressed in all black with a sweatshirt hood over his head, tapped on the glass window with what looked like silver handgun and told clerks, “I’m going to stand this place up.”The plastic orange tip typically found on the muzzles of toy guns had been removed from the child’s gun, preventing the two employees inside the store from realizing it was fake. The boy never asked for money, the store manager said.”We’re still in disbelief that somebody attempted to rob us — and it was a [7-year-old],” Miss McLaughlin said.The store manager was behind a counter putting returned videos in cases when the boy made the threat. She said that even though the gun looked like a real .32-caliber handgun, she turned her back on the boy and phoned the police.When officers arrived, the boy resisted their efforts to detain him by trying to hold onto the gun and struggling to escape their hold, Officer Dalton said. One officer told the boy to give him the gun, but he tucked it under his armpit. The officer grabbed the toy, but the boy struggled to hold on to it.”With his size, he couldn’t resist much, but he certainly tried,” Officer Dalton said. “He was pretty tight-lipped, pretty defiant. He maintained until the very end that he was there to rob the store.”Officer Dalton said the boy’s actions cannot be dismissed as a joke because his announcement that he was robbing the store and his defiance in holding onto the gun could have harmed someone, including himself.It is not clear how the boy, who stands 4 feet tall and weighs about 70 pounds, would be punished.Officer Dalton said the punishment would depend on whether the boy has a criminal record, adding that the child was released to his mother. The officer said he did not know where the boy’s father is.The child will have a juvenile hearing in about a week, and the matter could be resolved at the hearing or could be forwarded to the State’s Attorney’s Office, Officer Dalton said.No charges are pending against the mother for the child’s actions, police said.But on Tuesday, the boy’s mother went to the video store twice to “harass” employees and “blamed them for her son’s predicament,” Officer Dalton said. He said store employees called police both times, but the woman left before officers arrived.Officer Dalton said police could charge her with trespassing if she continues to make trips to the shop.Two boys appeared to be with the boy at the video store, Officer Dalton said, but they aren’t suspected of being involved with the incident. Police don’t know if they had any idea of what the boy was doing.The boy was alone when police arrived.• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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