RTA shooting: Prosecutors file motion to charge 17-year-old as adult

Heck: “The number of juveniles using firearms to solve disputes has increased recently and it simply must stop.”

A 17-year-old accused of shooting three people aboard an RTA bus last month in downtown Dayton could be charged as an adult.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. announced Tuesday his office is filing to transfer the teen’s case from juvenile court to adult court.

ExploreRELATED: 2 teens charged after 3 shot on RTA bus at downtown hub
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Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. announced on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, that his office is filing a motion to charge a 17-year-old accused of shooting three people on RTA bus in Dayton as an adult. JIM NOELKER / STAFF

Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. announced on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, that his office is filing a motion to charge a 17-year-old accused of shooting three people on RTA bus in Dayton as an adult. JIM NOELKER / STAFF

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Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. announced on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, that his office is filing a motion to charge a 17-year-old accused of shooting three people on RTA bus in Dayton as an adult. JIM NOELKER / STAFF

“It’s only on the most serious and severe cases that we ask for a transfer, and this is one of them,” Heck said.

A fight broke out Jan. 18 on a bus in a bay at the Wright Stop Plaza Transit Center at 4 S. Main St. in downtown Dayton. The 17-year-old reportedly was riding the bus as it pulled into the hub and started shouting at people he knew outside on the platform. When the people came onto the bus, a fight started and it ended in gunfire, Heck said.

Three people, including a bus driver, were shot and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to Dayton police. The gun used in the shooting belonged to the 17-year-old’s mother and was taken without her permission, the prosecutor said.

Shortly after the shooting, officers arrested two juvenile suspects on East Sixth Street. In the amended complaint filed Tuesday, the 17-year-old was charged with six counts of felonious assault and one count each of carrying a concealed weapon and tampering with evidence.

A juvenile judge will decide after additional court hearings whether the teen should be transferred to adult court.

The Dayton Daily News has not identified the juvenile, pending the official transfer of his case to adult court.

The other juvenile previously was charged with tampering with evidence. The prosecutor’s office is reviewing evidence and still deciding whether to try to move that juvenile’s case to adult court.

The prosecutor called the circumstances around the shooting “disturbing.”

“We’re not talking about shoplifting. We’re not talking about taking something or stealing something. We’re talking about serious crimes and we’re talking about felony crimes,” Heck said. “In this particular case, the defendant showed absolutely no concern for the safety of others.”

The prosecutor said COVID or video games should not be blamed for the incident.

“The blame is on the perpetrator, and there must be consequences when people commit crimes whether they are adults or juveniles,” Heck said. “Enough is enough. We cannot simply permit this happening in our community and we all have a stake in it.”

ExploreRecent increased juvenile arrests, severity concern police, judge

Officials have expressed concern about a recent increase in juvenile arrests and the severity of their crimes. Heck said that his office has seen an uptick of juveniles committing serious felony crimes and there might be a number of reasons for that.

“You can not get away from supervision and knowing what your child is doing, because there is no replacement for that,” Heck said, adding that school being out might be a contributing factor for kids committing crime as well.

But regardless, Heck said it’s clear to everyone that a teen cannot shoot a gun inside an RTA bus without consequences.

Part of the reason the prosecutor’s office is attempting to move the teen’s case into adult court is due to the limits on how long a defendant can be incarcerated or supervised in juvenile court, Heck said. Those limits would result in the teen, if he is convicted, being released once he turns 21, which the prosecutor said is not enough time.

“Three people ended up being shot by this defendant,” Heck said. “The complete disregard for the safety of innocent people is inexcusable. People minding their business downtown on a Tuesday afternoon should not be subjected to this conduct. The number of juveniles using firearms to solve disputes has increased recently and it simply must stop.”