Teen arrested on Tybee for trying to purchase firearm, planned t - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Teen arrested on Tybee for trying to purchase firearm, planned to murder 3 people

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) -

The Tybee Island Police Department arrested a 14-year-old male Friday night after he bought a gun from an undercover officer.

Officers say the incident happened around 9 p.m. after the teen had been on their radar for two to three weeks. 

Officers first learned about the boy wanting to buy a gun from his friends who told police what the teen had been texting them. We're told the texts that the friends were worried about included references to killing another juvenile and two adults on Tybee.

"We've had some indicators out of this particular juvenile from things that he's done in the past that led us to believe that maybe he was capable of doing something like that. That's why we had to act so quickly,” said Tybee Island Police Lt. Bertram Whitley. 

After this, officials decided to move in on their operation.

"We felt that when we got the initial complaint that we needed to act on it very quickly," said LT. Whitley. "We didn't want him to come across another firearm quicker than the one that we had made available to him, we didn't want to take that risk so we wanted to try and move as fast as we could."

They contacted the teen on social media, via Snapchat, to set up a place to meet. The boy picked Jaycee Park as the location of the transaction because that is where he felt comfortable.

Jaycee Park is just down the road from the Tybee Island Police station. 

"It makes a lot of sense, because individuals who do use Snapchat, you can send and receive messages on there that don't necessarily get saved on somebody's device. So in my opinion, it's the perfect application for somebody to do that, in the event that they're hoping they don't get caught,” said Lt. Whitley. 

After completing the transaction, officers arrested the 14-year-old without incident. The teen was taken to the Juvenile Detention Center.

At this time it is unknown when the teen planned to use the gun. The teen has not made a first appearance in court yet.

The lead investigator says when you have someone making threats to hurt other people, the safest place for them is in custody where they can be monitored and have no contact with potential witnesses or victims.

The teen is charged with making terroristic threats, criminal attempt to commit murder, possessions of a controlled substance, under 18 in the possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.  

While the lieutenant couldn't get into the specifics of the investigation, he did say given the severity of the threats the teen made, that it's possible the teen could be charged as an adult as this case works through the juvenile court system and Chatham County District Attorney's Office.

The lieutenant credits friends of the teen for giving investigators information about the intention to hurt others.

"It's pretty extraordinary, it doesn't happen often. But in this case, it did and it actually worked out for the best,” said Lt. Whitley. “It's possible that [save lives], yeah."

Tybee Clerk of Council Jan LeViner heads the Tybee Island Youth Council, working with kids 9 to 14 years old, and has been for three years as a volunteer.

LeViner heard about the weekend arrest, and credits the parents of the tipsters for instilling values and encouraging them to stand up for what is right, which is one of the Youth Council's missions with local children.

"It is values, it's all values. It's the values the parents instill in the kids, or the values that you, you might interact with a child and say you don't need to do that, and don't be afraid to stand up and take action for something you know isn't right,” said LeViner. 

 

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