Three children, one just 9 years old, were taken into custody after an attempted burglary at a vape shop in Manassas early Sunday morning, police said. The owner of the business is also facing charges after authorities said he fired shots into the air.
The attempted burglary took place after 2 a.m. at Bristow Vapes & Smoke. When the alarm went off, owner Haitham Amer showed up at his store and found children trying to break in.
Amer told police he fired two warning shots to stop them in their tracks, which apparently worked.
"He and an acquaintance that was with him gave chase and detained two of the juveniles, which they turned over to officers when they got there," Prince William County Police Department Public Information Officer Renee Carr said.
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The boys taken into custody at the scene were 9 and 13 years old. A third boy, a 14-year-old, was also taken into custody a short time later.
All face burglary charges. The oldest child is also charged with possessing burglary tools. Their cases will be handled by court services.
Police said the children did not get inside the business and that nothing was stolen. Authorities said it's not known if their cases will proceed through the typical court process or if they'll be given a break.
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"Everybody makes mistakes and sometimes kids make them a little bit more, so we try to give them the opportunity not to make them again and to learn from it the first time," Carr said.
Police said Amer was charged with reckless handling of a firearm for firing the shots. No one was hit by the gunfire.
The shop owner said his store has been targeted multiple times in recent weeks, and that he did not know it was illegal to fire warning shots.
Amer was released with a summons to appear in court next month.