A Kenosha man who shot a 13-year-old girl as she drove away in his vehicle told police he is a concealed weapon carry permit holder and said he was told he could “shoot to defend himself or his property” when he went through CCW training.
Rodney Robinson Jr., 26, is charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety and endangering safety by reckless use of a firearm. The charges stem from an incident Friday in which he allegedly shot the teen girl in the back as she drove away from the Mobile gas station at the intersection of 50th Street and Sheridan Road.
At Robinson’s initial appearance in Kenosha County Circuit Court Monday, Assistant District Attorney Margaret Drees said the girl remains hospitalized in critical condition, but is expected to survive. Drees said one of the shots that hit the car went through the headrest of the vehicle.
“The 13-year-old is lucky to be in the hospital and to be alive,” Drees said.
Kenosha Police said they would be referring juvenile charges for auto theft against the girl.
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According to the criminal complaint, a Kenosha Police officer who arrived at Sheridan and 50th found a Chrysler Sebring crashed through the fence at the City of Kenosha Waste Site, 1001 50th St., with the 13-year-old lying on the ground next to the vehicle screaming in pain. A man — later identified as Robinson — was next to the vehicle reaching into the back seat.
The officer said there was a small amount of blood coming from the girl’s mouth and a bullet wound in the middle of her back near her spine.
Robinson told police he had gone into the gas station and left his vehicle at the pumps with the keys in the ignition outside.
According to the complaint, Robinson told police he saw two females in the parking lot and saw “one of them jump inside” his car and take off.
“The defendant said that he chased after the car and yelled for them to stop but the car continued to accelerate. The defendant stated that he then drew his Glock pistol from his holster on his left side and shot what he thought was three rounds at the vehicle. The defendant stated that he was trying to shoot out the back passenger side tire to stop the vehicle, the complaint states. “The defendant said he waited with the girl and tried to help her until the police arrived on scene,” the complaint states.
A friend of the girl told a detective she and the 13-year-old were walking to a friend’s house when they cut through the gas station parking lot and saw the Sebring in the lot with the engine running. She said the 13-year-old got into the driver’s seat, although she told her not to and began driving away when the man came out and began shooting at her.
The friend said that when the man who was shooting at her approached the 13-year-old she told him she had taken the car “just for a joke or for fun.”
‘Epidemic’ of thefts
Kenosha Police Sgt. Leo Viola said there has been a recent “epidemic” of auto thefts by juveniles, almost all of them taken when drivers left parked cars with the keys in the ignition. In most of those cases, Viola said, the cars are taken for a short time and then abandoned, rather than being taken and sold.
He said Kenosha Police have taken 101 stolen vehicle complaints to date in 2021.
The most recent case was Monday afternoon just about an hour before Robinson appeared in court. Viola said a vehicle left with the keys in the ignition at a gas station on 52nd Street was stolen at about noon Monday.
“It’s a very dangerous situation,” Viola said, saying juveniles have been in a number of chases with law enforcement in recent months. Two weeks ago, a 15-year-old Zion boy allegedly took two vehicles within 15 minutes before getting stuck in one of the vehicles while trying to flee police through an empty lot.
Police have urged people not to leave their keys in unattended vehicles.
Drees said Robinson has criminal history beyond a marijuana possession arrest in 2012. “These are extremely serious allegations, they carry a total of 40 years of exposure on the two charges,” she said.
The defense attorney asked that Robinson be released on a signature bond with home monitoring.
Court Commissioner Larry Keating called the charges against Robinson “very serious” and called the allegations that he fired a weapon at a moving vehicle “extremely dangerous, inherently dangerous.” He set Robinson’s bond at $35,000.
Robinson is next expected to appear in court for a preliminary hearing July 27.