By Darrell Todd Maurina
An 11-year-old boy is suspected in a series of armed robberies that plagued Clovis for the past month. Police say the boy used a plastic toy gun for his crimes — at least until his mother caught him shooting at a cat and took the gun away from him over the weekend.
Taking the toy gun away didn’t stop the robberies.
In the last robbery early Sunday morning, police said the recent elementary-school graduate mimicked a gun by hiding his finger under his shirt.
An adult and another juvenile are also being held in connection with the case.
“The mother is shocked,” said Clovis police detective Keith Farkas.
“The mom said she had bought him an ‘airsoft’ gun that shoots little yellow plastic pellet things,” Farkas said. “She took it away because she said she didn’t buy it for him to shoot cats with it.”
Farkas said the department already had leads pointing to the boy, whose name is being withheld by the Clovis News Journal due to his age, but arrested him after his mother brought him to the police station Monday.
Interrogating the 11-year-old led to the arrest of two others in connection with the robberies — a 16-year-old friend and the friend’s 27-year-old cousin, William Corrales, police said.
“From the interviews we did it was the 11-year-old’s idea to do all this; he just wondered if it would be fun,” Farkas said.
The boy — known to friends as “Bug” — admits wielding what clerks thought was a gun in three Clovis armed robberies, police said. The boy is a suspect in four more robberies that began in mid-June and netted hundreds of dollars.
None of the suspects or their families could be reached for comment.
None of the three has a prior police record in Clovis since moving here about two years ago. Clovis police are checking for criminal records in other states.
While harmless, the gun looked authentic and could have gotten its wielder killed if police had arrived during one of the robbery attempts, Farkas said.
“The toy gun did have an orange barrel but he had painted it black so it would look like a real gun,” Farkas said.
According to a news release from Clovis police, the boy has been charged with three counts of robbery, three counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and tampering with evidence.
His teenage friend has been charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and assault with intent to commit a violent felony.
Both boys were charged in children’s court.
William Corrales, the only adult in the group, has been charged with one count of robbery, two counts of conspiracy to commit robbery, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and one count of kidnapping.
Curry County juvenile detention center officials declined to indicate whether the boy or his teenage friend are still in custody, but Corrales remains in the Curry County adult detention center in lieu of a $75,000 cash-only bond.
Farkas said Corrales, who worked as a clerk at Allsup’s and helped set up a robbery of his own store, was talked into the robberies by the 11-year-old.
“The 27-year-old said he was drunk on Saturday and that’s how he got talked into it,” Farkas said.