Wamp Addresses Recent Carjackings by Juveniles

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Recent carjackings by teenagers in Chattanooga have raised the alarm bells of law enforcement and the community.

Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp came out today to express her concerns about these incidents.

Wamp said, “One of the reasons that we’re making this announcement today and treating it very serious is that I felt like if we didn’t do it sooner than later, what’s going to happen next week? And the next week?”

District Attorney Wamp announced actions her office is taking in the wake of two carjackings allegedly perpetrated by minors.

The incidents she is responding to include a carjacking that occurred near Memorial Hospital on the 2500 block of DeSales Avenue on January 26.

In this incident, Chattanooga Police say three young teens, two aged 16 and the other 14, robbed a woman at gunpoint and stole her car.

Two days later on January 28th, Chattanooga Police say there was another carjacking on the 2000 block of Roanoke Avenue.

Police say that three teens, aged 15, 14, and 13 years old, robbed a victim who was attempting to sell their car to them.

This resulted in a police chase that caused numerous crashes along Brainerd Road.

District Attorney Wamp says her office is looking to transfer five of these six defendants to be charged as adults for charges of Aggravated Robbery and Carjacking, both Class B felonies in Tennessee.

The 13-year-old suspect according to Wamp is too young to be tried as an adult in Tennessee on these statues.

She says her office is not looking to throw teens into prison but that there must be consequences for criminal actions.

Wamp said, “The idea is not that we’re trying to lock juveniles up and throw away the key… We are in a place in Hamilton County where we have got to hold juveniles accountable. And unfortunately, some are just going to have to be an example.”

She wants the public to be aware of why many of these crimes are taking place.

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Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp addressing the media about recent carjackings in Chattanooga.

Wamp said that 386 firearms were stolen last year, the vast majority of them inside of unlocked vehicles.

Wamp emphasized that, “A majority of the vehicles that the 386 firearms were stolen from were unlocked.  My executive assistant said this a few minutes ago, your vehicle is not a gun safe. And it shouldn’t be treated as such. You shouldn’t leave firearm locked or unlocked, basically ever.”

She explained how focused some criminals can be in their search for firearms.

“Often, they’re cycling through vehicles, not looking for anything but a firearm. In fact, based on personal experience, they’ll leave sunglasses, and they’ll leave bags that have valuables in them. They are only looking for firearms.”

She says during this time, those in Hamilton County need to be on high guard.

Wamp said, “Right now in this county, we do need to be observant. When I talk to my friends and family, especially in certain parts of town, if you get out of your car at a gas station, you need to feel different about it now than you did ten years ago.”

Categories: Chattanooga, Crime, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News