HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An unprecedented number of teens have been arrested for serious crimes in Hendersonville, ranging from car burglaries to aggravated robbery.
“I have not seen the almost constant amount of juveniles committing very serious crimes and frequency of which we’ve seen it occur,” said Assistant District Attorney Eric Mauldin.
The juvenile crime wave started at the end of May, according to police, and it is getting more serious. It also appears most of the juveniles are from Nashville, and most of them have guns that are often stolen.
The police chief, the mayor, and prosecutor held a news conference Wednesday to talk about what’s going on and send a message that teens arrested for serious crimes will be locked up and turned over to adult court whenever possible.
“We have a duty to the innocent people who live in Hendersonville. We don’t have a duty to the bad guys,” said Hendersonville Police Chief Mickey Miller. “We’re going to go after them and we’re going to lock them up every chance we get.”
Investigators have identified 42 suspects in various crimes. So far they’ve arrested 36 young people ranging in age from 13 to 20. Most are 16 or 17 years old.
Detective Seneca Smith has worked two cases involving teens in just the last week.
“I don’t believe their mortality is in their mind. They believe they’re invincible,” he told News 2. “They don’t see the ramifications of them being killed or them killing someone else.”
Police said there are three different gangs involved. They have chosen not to use the names to avoid giving them publicity. Miller calls them “a bunch of little thugs.”
”The only way we’re going to stop them from hurting citizens of Hendersonville is to put them away and that’s what we’re going to do,” the chief added.
Miller recalls one 16-year-old they chased and arrested at the Old Hickory mall.
“He smiled and said, ‘This is my 101st arrest.’ We verified 97,” the chief said. “Why is he out? Whether he’s a juvenile or not, if he’s big enough to pick up a gun, he’s big enough to do time in prison.”
Hendersonville officials are urging people to lock their doors and avoid leaving guns, computers, and keys in their cars.
The ongoing investigation involves detectives from nearby cities, including Goodlettsville, Gallatin, Lebanon, Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Smyrna, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.