Muncie teens charged in violent robbery sparks community leaders to encourage teens to get jobs

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MUNCIE, Ind. -- Two teens accused in a violent armed robbery are being charged as adults and community leaders are speaking out, hoping to encourage teens to find jobs instead of guns.

Hayden Emberton and Cody McGriff were charged this week for their part in a violent robbery on March 22nd in the middle of a Muncie intersection. Court records show the 16 and 17-year-olds robbed another teen at gunpoint who planned to buy a gun from them. The teen victim was hit in the head multiple times with a gun and records show Emberton and McGriff stole $40 from him.

Both teens are charged with robbery, criminal confinement with a deadly weapon, and battery with moderate bodily injury. Records show McGriff escaped from the Muncie Youth Opportunity Center.

Teens coming to the Muncie Unity Center tell leaders, it's easy to get a gun.

"About seven or eight of them raised their hands saying they knew of their peers that carried guns," said Unity Center leader, Yolanda Taylor.

The teen violence problem is nothing new for this community, but Taylor said the impacts are starting to play a role in teens safety around their peers. Many have told center leaders they are afraid.

"My frustration is there is no one who seems to be stepping up to help. Everyone wants to talk about them, but no body wants to come and volunteer their time to mentor," she said.

Taylor said the unity center is in desperate need of mentors and volunteers who can help inspire teens to turn away from violence. Even more, they need men and fathers to help inspire teens. On April 10 at 6 p.m., The Unity Center is hosting an event to encourage fathers to get involved in the community and help end teen violence.

"It’s going to take all of us," Taylor said.

Part of the problem with teen crime, Taylor said, is the lack of things to do for kids after school and on the weekends. The Unity Center hosts activities for youth, but primarily focuses on events for elementary aged children. Taylor said teens in Muncie need their own center with activities to keep them busy and keep their minds focused on things other than crime.

With summer quickly approaching, Taylor said she's hoping teens will become involved in the city's summer jobs programs. This year, there's three being offered for people from ages 14 to 24.

"Nothing stops a bullet like a job. Giving these kids something to do, they won’t think about the guns and being out on the streets with the violence," Taylor said.

Last year, 50 teens participated in one program. Taylor said she's hoping to have well over than number for the three programs.

"Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job" is being offered by the City of Muncie, with support from the city's three community centers and Mayor Dennis Tyler. That program is available to teens ages 14 and older.

Another jobs program being offered by Muncie Parks and Recreation is available for teens ages 16 and older. They will be involved in working with summer sports leagues like baseball and tennis.

"Work One" is also being offered as an on-the-job work training program. Workers will help in the kitchen and use other skilled jobs in various locations including The Unity Center. This is being offered for ages 16 to 24.

Click here for more information from the Muncie Unity Center. You can also go to the center to pick up an application or call (765) 213-2571.