'We did it for kicks': Kids as young as 11 arrested for string of violent robberies, officials say

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor, Cathy Hernandez - Reporter

HOUSTON - Children as young as 11 years old are responsible for a string of robberies in southwest Houston, according to investigators.

Harris County Precinct 5 Constable Ted Heap said investigators looking into numerous aggravated robberies that happened over the span of four months have arrested three boys in connection with the cases so far.

Three others are expected to be arrested by the end of the week, Heap said. 

Heap said that one of the victims, 76-year-old Ray Johnson, was out for an evening stroll on Sept. 9 when he was attacked, beaten with his own walking stick and pistol-whipped.

“My stick was jerked out of my hand, they came up behind me, I turned around and confronted them and they said give me your money," Johnson said.

Surveillance video shows the juveniles at a store at 12511 Hillcroft after the alleged assault of Johnson.

VIDEO: Surveillance video of juvenile suspects after man's alleged beating

Johnson said his attackers walked up behind him, yanked his walking stick out of his hand and then began their assault. He said that he yelled for help when one of them pointed a small-caliber gun at his face. He said the group ran off when his neighbors came to help.

“One thing I noticed, it was a small caliber, and it reminded me of a pellet pistol I had," Johnson said. "I’m quite convinced it was a pellet gun, but still, when it’s big and black, and about the same frame size as a .45, you just think, ‘Ah, well. Maybe God’s calling me home.’”

Detectives found surveillance video of the group at a nearby gas station after Johnson's attack. An investigator spotted a group matching the description of the juveniles stealing a gas can from the back of a lawn maintenance company’s truck, and the boys fled. Deputy constables arrested two of them and two escaped.

“They were going to use these gas cans to torch the vehicle which they were in. The vehicle was stolen approximately four hours earlier and reported to the Houston Police Department,” said Constable Heap.

Heap said that the suspects range in age from 11 to 14, and all of them attend school. It appears the boys were committing the crimes after school, Heap said.

Heap said that when one of the kids was questioned about the motive for the robberies, he responded, "We did it for kicks."

Johnson, who works part time as Santa Claus, joked that the kids weren't on the naughty list, but there is "room for improvement."

VIDEO: Officials, victim talk about robberies in southwest Houston

Heap said the group of juveniles could be connected to as many as 26 robberies and thefts reported in the area since May.

Johnson, who used to be a Boy Scout leader said he has faith the boys who attacked him can possibly turn their lives around because he’s seen it in his past. 

"You just got to get them off the streets and give them something to do,” Johnson said."Always still have hope for the kids, even these, as I told others before today that night I prayed for those boys."

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