“Give me your keys.”
The first time Shannon Dave heard the suspect, she thought it was a joke, and didn’t recognize the gesture the teen was making toward his waistband.
Dave, a mother who’d raised her children in the surrounding neighborhood, was caught off-guard, thinking maybe it was someone playing a joke on her. Her fiance’s car was parked on Jakes Way, and she was walking toward Pauline Court, returning to a family gathering with some Tupperware that she’d left in the vehicle. A violent crime was the last thing she was expecting near the Highway 14 overpass just a few hundred feet from where her family was gathered.
And then she heard the demand again, as the teen quickly brandished what looked like a handgun.
Considering the worst-case scenario, Dave knows in part she was lucky.
The 17-year-old whom deputies believe robbed her was recently released from Camp Afflerpaugh in La Verne, a juvenile detention facility where he served seven months for carjacking and robbery charges stemming from a series of crimes in November. He’s now in custody at a juvenile offender facility in Sylmar.
In the November incidents, a woman’s vehicle was stolen near Olive View Medical Center, and she was pistol-whipped after not complying with the robber’s demand. The teenager then stole the car and crashed it off Sandy Drive in Canyon Country, near where the latest allegation occurred. This was several days after another carjacking and a pair of robberies also committed with a replica gun.
The deputies tracked down the suspect eventually, but only after they found his blood in another apartment he’d broken into after the crash, according to investigators. (Law enforcement officials confirmed information from the previously adjudicated cases but couldn’t comment further because the investigation involved a juvenile suspect.)
Despite deputies believing they can prove multiple felony allegations against the teenager, officials have little reason to believe the suspect in their investigation will be in jail much after he turns 18 in May, due to L.A. County district attorney policy.
The second time around
Citing recent policy changes, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is planning to file a probation violation, instead of a criminal filing, in Sunday’s brazen midday gunpoint carjacking in Canyon Country.
Sheriff’s Station investigators recommended otherwise for the 17-year-old suspect — who’s believed to have stolen the silver Nissan sedan with the use of a replica pistol, which was then driven to South Los Angeles and crashed after Torrance Police Department officers tried to perform a traffic stop. Part of their concern is that the teenage suspect had only been out of custody since June 14 before picking up another allegation.
However, the D.A.’s policy is fairly explicit when it comes to charging juveniles with what are known as “strikable offenses,” even for violent crimes, with two exceptions, according to District Attorney George Gascón’s directives. “Filing deputies are instructed to NOT file any potential strike offense if the offender is 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the offense,” his directive 20-09 notes. “The only exception to this policy shall be charges involving forcible rape and murder.”
The impacts of what happened to Dave, just like hundreds of other victims of violent crimes, became more apparent to her over the past few days, she said Friday, in reflecting on the experience.
The incident has also left Shannon Dave — whose son Austin Dave is well-known for years of covering crime in Southern California for The Signal and other outlets — very frustrated, she said, when she understood how the legal system was likely to treat the suspect in her case.
While she’s still struggling with the Torrance tow yard that took custody of the vehicle after the suspect crashed it, she also has greater concerns for her safety, and even that of the suspect, she added.
She said, as a parent, she knows that consequences are important for teaching lessons, especially to juveniles. She considered the likely sentence facing her alleged carjacker — a similar sentence to the one he just served — as a “slap on the wrist,” which would do little to deter another incident like the previous two from happening a third time. Especially since detectives also have evidence the teenage suspect was involved in multiple armed robberies before his first carjacking.
She felt times have changed since she was growing up, and there are fewer boundaries that criminals respect, and therefore there needs to be consequences.
She still feels victimized after the fact, she said, with having trouble sleeping, as well as the challenges of losing a means of transportation.
She also questioned how policies that don’t hold a suspect accountable leave any hope for financial restitution for victims.
“In the least, the suspect or the parents should be financially forced to pay restitution if the D.A. doesn’t want to impose lengthy sentences,” she added. “But we victims shouldn’t have to continue to be victimized after the fact.
“Society deems you as a child because of your age, but your actions deem you as an adult,” she said, adding she wished she could have attended Thursday’s rally aimed at recalling Gascón. “And therefore, I feel like there should be adult consequences.”