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'They just came charging at me': 13-year-old arrested after carjacking St. Louis pastor at gunpoint

After stealing the car, police say two teens left the parking lot trying to escape but struck two cars just a few feet away and ran off.

ST. LOUIS — A pastor was carjacked at his church in south St. Louis.

Police told 5 On Your Side two teenagers pointed a gun in his face Friday night before taking his car, slamming it into two other vehicles and escaping.

Monday afternoon, police said a 13-year-old boy was arrested over the weekend and they are looking for the other teen suspect.

At about 7:15 Friday night, Pastor Michael Coleman said he was meeting a trustee at Carondelet Baptist Church to work on the church's damaged basement, which was impacted by floodwaters over the summer.

At the same time, there was a narcotics anonymous group meeting too. 

Coleman said everyone was inside and he was the last to arrive. 

He remembers putting a club on his steering wheel when two teens showed up in the parking lot.

"As I'm getting out, there are two gentlemen, young, young, young, probably 13 or 14. They just came charging at me and put the gun in my face and I say, 'Please, please don't do anything stupid.' I tell them there is a camera up there," he said as he pointed up to the church's outdoor surveillance camera. 

Coleman told 5 On Your Side he made sure to disclose that information hoping it would prevent the teens from shooting him.

Taken aback by how young they looked, he said he cooperated.

He said while a scarf and hat covered most of their face, Coleman said he could tell by their stature and voices that they were young.

"With a gun in your face, I’m dealing with children and it's more nerve-wracking, I just froze. They asked me to get out of the car and asked for my wallet, you see them take my phone and throw it down," Coleman pointed out as he looked back at the surveillance footage.

Coleman said he couldn't believe what he was seeing. 

"They are talking to each other and the second guy seemed like he was prompting him, telling him what to do but then they get into an argument and I'm thinking maybe this guy is showing him how to do it," he said. "He then wanted me to unlock the club... I had to ask for my own keys back!"

That's when he said the two boys got in the car. Through surveillance footage, you can see Coleman standing outside the car with his hands up while the boys sit inside.

Coleman told 5 On Your Side in those 20 seconds, which felt like eternity, he was hoping someone from the meeting could see him outside in need of help. 

But he said the boys were the ones needing assistance.

"I really believe these guys probably never driven a real car before because they didn't even how to put the key in the ignition and turn it on," Coleman said. "They asked, 'How does this thing start?', I'm thinking seriously you guys don’t have this under control and I can’t coach or help you."

After Coleman gave them instructions, that's when police said the duo left the parking lot and made a left turn, but struck two cars just a few feet away and ran off.

The boys left behind the damaged car and took Coleman's wallet.

"In this case, I really think the camera saved my life," Coleman said. 

While Coleman is dealing with a bunch of damage, he said he's also praying for some healing.

"I would love to help change their lives and help those parents trying to raise them. My heart goes out to grandma, to mom, it does," he said with tears in his eyes.

Coleman wants to hold these teenagers accountable. Webster University Counseling Department Assistant Professor Dr. Claire Martin said the community must do the same.

“It’s quite sad, first of all because we are talking about young kids, like 13 years old," Martin said.

Martin said this is a sad reality for many children and teens.

“It's pretty shocking, but at the same time, we’ve heard of those things happening so often," she said.

She said families should be involved in their children's lives, and be invested enough to see any potential red flags.

“Do they have those courageous conversations to ask their kids who they are hanging out with, what access do they have, what access do your friends have, what do you do when you hang out with your friends?” she said.

Martin said parents, educators and the whole community play a role in preventing these actions.

“There’s a lack of connection in families, there’s a lack of connection in communities," she said.

She said many adults are checked out, and it can show in their children’s actions.

“They turn to their social media, and even when they’re in the home they’re checked out," she said.

Pastor Coleman is dealing with this situation. Martin said its time the community does the same.

“I think we can come from back here by recognizing there is a problem and reconnecting, being intentional about reconnecting," Martin said.

Joel Currier, Chief Communications Officer with 22nd Judicial Circuit, said the boy was charged with first-degree robbery and is detained in family court. 

There is a hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 1.

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