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Father of armed 11-year-old arrested

Man first to be charged under Portland gun law

PORTLAND – The father of an 11-year-old boy accused of trying to carjack a woman has become the first person to be charged under a Portland city ordinance that holds parents responsible when a gun ends up in the hands of a child.

Joseph Charlton, 34, was arrested on the misdemeanor charge Tuesday after authorities executed a search warrant at his southeast Portland home, said Sgt. Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Bureau.

The boy, who was not home at the time of the search, was taken into protective custody along with Charlton’s other children: a 4-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy. The mother of the children has not been charged, Simpson said.

The arrest came three days after police say the child, armed with a loaded .22-caliber Derringer, and his 7-year-old accomplice tried to carjack a woman in a church parking lot near his home.

Amy Garrett, 22, told officers that when the boys approached her, the younger boy told the older boy to “show her your piece.”

The woman said that when she refused to give them her vehicle, they demanded cash and her phone. The woman drove away and was not injured.

Simpson said Charlton may face additional charges, and the authorities were searching his home for additional weapons.

Charlton spoke with KATU-TV the day before his arrest. He told the station that his son has been running with the wrong crowd and he’s trying to get him on the right path. As for the gun, he said his son got it from a “local troublemaker.”

Simpson said the 7-year-old has not been taken into protective custody, but the state Department of Human Services is investigating the boy’s situation.

“Nobody I’ve talked to has ever had a case where a 7-year-old was involved in an armed robbery,” Simpson said.

The ordinance was one of several gun control measures the Portland City Council approved in late 2010. Mayor Sam Adams pushed for them following a surge in gang-related shootings.


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