GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Three teenagers were arrested after a police chase in Grand Rapids Tuesday evening.
Walker police said that as a person was walking to his Kia that was parked at Greenridge Shopping Mall, he interrupted several suspects that were trying to steal his vehicle. They then jumped in another stolen Kia that had been taken from a nearby hotel. As they drove away, they intentionally hit the car owner that had confronted them. Officers say the owner was uninjured.
Police were called and began to chase the group in the stolen Kia around 11 p.m. The chase ended about 15 minutes later on Lafayette Avenue SE near Delaware Street and Highland Street.
Officers arrested three teenagers: two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old. One of the 14-year-olds was the driver, Walker police said. Police also found two weapons in the car.
“14- and 15-year-olds driving around with two handguns in a stolen car. It’s just unacceptable,” said Police Chief Eric Winstrom at a press conference Wednesday.
“If it’s a stolen motor vehicle with a 14-year-old driving and we pursue that vehicle, there’s a real chance that a 14-year-old, who’s probably not a very experienced driver, is going to go right through a red light and get T-boned and perhaps kill themselves or kill someone else,” Winstrom said. “So chasing those vehicles is generally off the table.”
A GRPD spokesperson said it is “highly likely” the two suspects are connected to recent Kia thefts in the area. Walker police said this recent theft brings the total to 20 stolen or attempted stolen Kias or Hyundais in Walker in the last month.
It’s the same story in Grand Rapids.
“Just since May, we’ve had 396 either just Kia of Hyundais either stolen or attempted stolen in the city of Grand Rapids alone,” Winstrom said. “It’s a tremendous increase.”
He said even if they teens weren’t perpetrators of gun crime, they could have easily become victims of gun crime.
“It’s a real concern,” Winstrom said at a news conference with leaders of Silent Observer seeking crime tips. “Everybody’s got a role to play. That includes call(ing) the (Silent Observer) tip line.”
Anyone with information on any crime can call Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 and leave a tip anonymously.
— News 8’s Rachel Van Gilder contributed to this report.