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12-year-old boy in custody after holding up gas station, firing off warning shot inside

Hartford Police said the boy went to school, went home, and then retrieved the gun from a parent's gun safe before walking to the gas station.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

HARTFORD, Mich. — A 12-year-old boy is in custody after law enforcement said he robbed a gas station of cash and fired off a shot inside Wednesday afternoon in Hartford

Just before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 911 dispatchers got a call about an armed robbery at the Marathon gas station at 108 East Main Street, which is just a block from the police station. 

Dispatchers learned a shot had been fired inside by a young boy, who ran off after getting a bag of cash.

Hartford Police Chief Tressa Beltran was returning from a detail and was able to make it to the gas station within 90 seconds of getting that 911 call. 

Other officers made it there shortly after. 

Chief Beltran spotted the suspect behind some buildings downtown about a block and a half away from the scene of the armed robbery. She took him into custody without incident. 

Hartford Lt. Mike Prince says the 12-year-old boy went to school Wednesday and had apparently talked with a classmate about the least secure gas station in town. 

The boy went home, changed clothes, got into a parent's gun safe and retrieved a 9mm handgun with two loaded magazines. 

He put the gun in a backpack and then walked about a mile to the gas station, Lt. Prince said. 

The 12-year-old waited in line behind a customer at the gas station when he pulled out the gun and told the clerk to put money in the back. 

She said, "are you serious?" 

That's when the boy fired a shot into the ceiling. She reached down and gave him a bank deposit bag, telling him to leave the store. 

Lt. Prince said the spent shell casing hit one of the clerks. 

"She was afraid she wasn't going to see her kids anymore," Lt. Prince said about the clerk. 

"Every day I'm seeing something new at this job. I've been a full-time police officer for 38 years. What really flabbergasted me is that he showed no emotion," Lt. Prince said. 

"He told us he didn't do it for the money. He said he would've thrown the money into the sewer. He wouldn't give us an explanation why he did it." 

Because Van Buren County doesn't have a juvenile lockup, he was taken to Allegan county to be detained ahead of a hearing. 

The boy is at a hearing in juvenile court Thursday. 

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