PORTLAND – Police arrested a Portland father on weapons charges and took his son, the suspect in a recent attempted carjacking and armed robbery, into protective custody Tuesday.
Joseph Charlton's arrest comes three days after a woman reported that his 11-year-old son threatened her with a gun and tried to carjack her. The boy had been taken into custody but was then released to his parents.
Charlton was arrested Tuesday morning for having an unsecured firearm at their home on SE 160th Avenue and Alder Street. Already a convicted felon,Charlton was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, endangering the welfare of a minor and endangering a child by allowing access to a firearm.
According to court documents released to KGW Friday, Charlton left a handgun in a place where his unsupervised children could get it.
The documents also reveal that the 7-year-old involved in the case told police that he and the 11-year-old fired the gun in the air next to Charlton's 4-year-old daughter.
The 7-year-old also told police that the 4-year-old girl got a bloody nose while the boys played with the gun. This all happened while Charlton was asleep on the couch, according to the documents.
Kathy Carlton, the defendant's wife, told police he acquired the gun for protection because "some guys were after him," the documents reveal. The boy also told police Charlton smokes marijuana from a bong in front of them.
The Oregon Department of Human Services also took the 11-year-old boy into protective custody, along with his 4-year-old sister and 9-year-old brother who were in the home.
Neighbors said the 11-year old often bragged about having access to a gun. "He's told my brother, he's told other kids around the apartments around here that his dad had a gun and he could get a hold of it anytime he wanted to. And obviously, it happened," said Audryanna Waldron, who lives nearby.
Kids accused in attempted carjacking and armed robbery
In the attempted carjacking, Ami Garrett, 22, said she was sitting in her truck Saturday when the 11-year-old and a 7-year-old boy approached her in a church parking lot as she waited for her parents, according to Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police Bureau.
"They told me they were going to blow my brains out if I didn't give them something," Garrett said.
The young woman managed to get away safely and alerted police, who soon found the boys nearby. Simpson said the 11-year old had a loaded gun. Investigators believe the gun belonged to his father, who had left it unsecured.
After the boys were captured for the carjacking, Simpson said the juvenile justice center was not set up to handle such young kids, so officers took them home to their parents. As of Tuesday night, the 7-year old was still in his parents' custody.
Neighbors held a meeting Monday night, concerned that the children were there and other problems could develop. Police assured them that extra patrols would be going through the area.
Background: Concerned neighbors hold meeting
Charlton is the first person to be arrested under a new Portland city ordinance prohibiting adults from leaving unsecured firearms where minors can access them.
KGW Reporter Mark Hanrahan contributed to this report