Father of child armed robbery suspect arrested

Father of child armed robbery suspect arrested
Joseph Charlton is seen in a booking photo from an arrest in 2011.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Members of the Portland police gun task force arrested the father of one of two young boys accused of being involved in a recent armed robbery attempt, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

Sgt. Pete Simpson said Joseph Charlton, 34, was arrested in his home in the 16000 block of Southeast Alder Street while officers served a search warrant.

Charlton faces a charge of leaving an unsecured firearm for a minor. The charge is a city ordinance that is being used for the first time, Simpson said. It is one of several that were put into place in 2010 with the goal of curbing gun violence in Portland.

The armed robbery happened Saturday. According to investigators, two young boys approached a woman in the parking lot of Freedom Foursquare Church (located next door to the home where the father was arrested) and tried to steal her truck. Police said an 11-year-old boy flashed a handgun during the robbery.

"He said it was fully-loaded and cocked and ready to go," the victim, Amy Garrett said. "He told me he was going to blow my brains out if I didn't give him anything."

Garrett said when she refused to give the boys her truck, they demanded her wallet and phone and told her they would shoot her if she didn’t give them anything.

"My heart was beating a million miles a minute," she said. "I'm surprised it didn't completely beat out of my chest. I was very scared."

When officers responded, they spotted the two boys, who tried to run away. Officers stopped them near the church and told the 11-year-old to keep his hands out of his pockets. Simpson said the boy refused and an officer grabbed his arms. That's when the officer found a cocked and loaded handgun in the boy's pocket.

That boy's father, the man who was arrested on Tuesday, had spoken with KATU the day before and said he was trying to get his son on the right path. He also said the gun used in the crime did not come from his son.

"My son said they had basically acquired the gun from a local troublemaker in the neighborhood," Charlton said at the time.

During Charlton's arrest, his three children (a 4-year-old, 9-year-old and the 11-year-old accused of the armed robbery) were taken into protective custody. Simpson said the childrens' mother is not facing charges.

Charlton has a criminal record for multiple assaults and spent three years behind bars (from 2002 and 2005).

Later in the afternoon on Tuesday, an officer began searching two trucks parked in front of Charlton's home. Animal services had also been at the home earlier and removed at least one animal.