A simple purse snatching that escalated into a car and foot chase, a damaged police vehicle and a crash into a school, ended with a 12-year-old and two 14-year-olds charged with a major felony.
The only adult in the group, 27-year-old Charles Flowers, who police say drove a getaway car that purposely hit a patrol vehicle, was arrested and charged with grand theft auto, driving with a suspended license and fleeing a police officer.
Monday’s incident likely would have gone almost unnoticed had Flowers not chosen to flee from law enforcement, police said.
“They escalated the whole thing,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Jennifer Capote.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Though police released photos and the names of all of the suspects arrested Monday, the Miami Herald is only naming the lone adult.
Capote said she didn’t know the relationship between Flowers and the three youngsters. She said a fourth teen was taken into custody and is undergoing a mental evaluation.
According to police and witnesses, at about 9 a.m. Monday two 14-year-old boys approached a 60-year-old woman at a bus stop at U.S. 1 and Southwest 200th Street. As a 12-year-old stood lookout, one of the teens grabbed the woman’s purse, which was resting on the bench. They took off.
Then a short while later and five blocks south, another purse was stolen from a woman at a bus bench. This time the woman was 94. The suspects fled.
Police soon spotted the blue Hyundai Sonata being driven by Flowers and gave chase — all the way south to Homestead. At one point the Hyundai driven by Flowers crashed into a wall at Miami MacArthur South in Homestead on Southwest 264th Street, a school for students with behavior or legal trouble and attended by at least one of the suspects, police said.
But the group still refused to obey police commands. First, police said, Flowers backed the Hyundai into a police car. Then the five suspects got out of the car and fled onto the school’s campus, causing a brief lockdown. Police finally caught them and the school reopened.
Flowers has been arrested by South Florida law enforcement at least nine times since 2008, Florida Law Enforcement records show. He was charged with battery by Hollywood police in 2008. A year later, Miami-Dade police arrested him for grand theft. Six months later the Broward Sheriff’s Office charged Flowers with grand theft, trespassing and battery.
He was arrested in Miami-Dade and accused of possession of marijuana in 2013 and possession of cocaine a year later. In 2015 Miami-Dade police charged Flowers with trespassing.
Every case but one involving Flowers was either dropped or he was found not guilty. His lone plea of no contest: possession of marijuana.