‘Grand Theft Auto in real life’: 10 teens charged in 2 DC-area carjacking rings

A total of 10 teenagers have been charged with conspiracy to commit a series of carjackings in the D.C. region, according to two separate indictments announced Monday by U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves.

Three of the teens — Cedae Hardy, Landrell Jordan III and Malik Norman — are facing charges in federal court.

Hardy is the main defendant in the federal case, in which the alleged ring is accused of carjacking 13 cars. The other seven teens — Jaelen Jordan, Warren Montgomery, Byron Gillum, Isaiah Flowers, Jahkai Goff, Taj Giles and Irshaad Ellis-Bey — are accused of conspiring in three carjackings. They were indicted by a D.C. Superior Court grand jury.

Hardy, who has been jailed since June, is also charged with six other carjackings. Investigators believe there may be overlap in the two alleged carjacking rings and all the individuals indicted have been arrested and are being held.

Some of the defendants are accused of sharing details of carjackings in online group chats.

“It is alleged when discussing some of the carjackings covered by these indictments one defendant wrote ‘GTA IRL,’ which we allege means Grand Theft Auto in real life,” said U.S. Attorney Graves.

U.S. Attorney for D.C. Matthew Graves announces the indictment of 10 people in two carjacking rings. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

While all of the defendants are age 18 or 19, a few were 17 at the time of the alleged carjackings and Graves said the U.S. Attorney’s office is using its authority under D.C. law to charge those individuals as adults.

Graves said during a Monday afternoon news briefing that a “super majority” of individuals arrested for carjacking are juveniles and few limit their involvement in the violent crime to just one incident.

“These are not the impetuous crimes of a child who temporarily lost control. They are the calculated crime of someone willing to hold a gun to someone’s head for … money or property,” Graves said.

The carjackings that are blamed on the teenagers occurred mostly in D.C., with others in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

“The carjackers showed no mercy or remorse to the victims, who included a dentist on her way to work, a mother buckling her children into her vehicle in front of an elementary school, an elderly couple pulling into the driveway of their own home, a food delivery driver making his last delivery of the evening, and a ride-share driver who we believe didn’t understand Hardy’s commands and tried to push him out of his vehicle,” said David Sundberg, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “He’s then alleged to have shot the driver in the forearm and abdomen, seriously injuring him.”

There have been more than 930 carjackings this year in the District, with 77% of them involving guns.

To curb the city’s spike in carjackings, Graves is recommending prosecutors charge as adults any juveniles who are accused in a series of carjackings.

D.C. law requires those convicted of armed carjacking to be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison. But Graves said D.C.’s 2018 Youth Rehabilitation Act, providing leniency for youthful offenders, has prompted D.C. Superior Court judges to disregard the mandatory minimum for carjackers under age 25.

There have been roughly 145 people arrested on armed carjacking charges this year, Graves said. More than 80% of them were juveniles and just 12 were older than 25 at the time of the alleged offense.

“In short, D.C. law has effectively eliminated the mandatory minimum for armed carjacking,” said Graves.

The seven defendants indicted in D.C. Superior Court will be arraigned Dec. 14.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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