INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Three teenagers are facing felony charges after Lawrence police say they committed a string of armed robberies on the east side.
Detectives say a tip from a FOX59 viewer helped track the suspects down.
“Our detectives were able to identify the three individuals,” said Lawrence Police Deputy Chief Gary Woodruff.
The three teenagers were caught on camera using stolen credit cards at a gas station.
“A 16-year-old, an 18-year-old, and a 19-year-old,” said Deputy Chief Woodruff.
Leo Turner III, Tyrail Watkins, and convicted felon Adrian Stewart all face armed robbery and kidnapping charges. Investigators say the trio robbed a woman at gunpoint at an east side apartment complex. Just hours later, police say they held a man at gunpoint and robbed him while he was pumping gas.
“Anytime you have people that are this young committing violent crime that is a concern,” said Deputy Chief Woodruff.
Teen violence is a trend that Lawrence police have been dealing with for months. Investigators say the age of the suspects and victims in the cases continues to get younger each year.
“I have been at it long enough now to see that cycle go up and down,” said Deputy Chief Woodruff.
To curb the crime, Lawrence police use community outreach techniques. Also, they send their group of eight police chaplains out on the streets to go one-on-one with teens to explain the very real, legal and emotional consequences of gun violence.
“I have talked with teens over the years and they say well I can clown around and good off, but everything counts. This is your life,” said Lawrence Police lead Chaplain Mel Keaton.
Chaplain Keaton has done inner-city outreach in high crime cities for years including in both New York and Washington D.C.
Keaton tells us he uses the same techniques with teens here in Indianapolis.
“People are people so you use the same approach. It comes down to communication and relationships and police are just one part of that. Families, the church, civic organizations, and the school all play a part,” said Keaton.
Authorities say law enforcement is just one piece of the puzzle in the ongoing issues with teen violence. Police encourage parents and teens have community groups that have things to do for kids before and after school to keep them out of trouble.