HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – Five people have been arrested in connection with several ruthless attacks on the Hollywood Broadwalk in the last couple of weeks in which tourists and residents were beaten and robbed.
According to Hollywood police those charged in last months strong-armed robberies are 17-year old John Wakula, 17-year old Alejandro (Alex) Balais, 18-year old Zackary Gonzalez, 19-year old Alejandro Perez and 19-year old Jason Noval. All are from Hollywood.READ MORE: Situation At Matheson Hammock Park In Miami-Dade Heats Up
During the bond court hearing for Gonzalez on Tuesday, Broward Circuit Judge John Hurley said the teen had a nonchalant disrespectful attitude. He also noted that Gonzalez not only had a long juvenile record, he also had an open case in Miami-Dade in which he was accused in an Aventura battery case.
Gonzalez is charged with three counts of strong armed robbery and two counts of aggravated battery for the Broward incidents.
The judge concluded that Gonzalez is a danger to the community and is a one person crime wave – so bond was set high at $125 thousand. If the teen is released, he will have to wear a GPS monitoring device.
According to police, they got a break in the case when detectives tracked items taken in a March 10th robbery on the Broadwalk to Family Pawn located in the 2700 block of State Road 7.
Investigation revealed that Jason A. Noval had pawned the items. Noval was taken into custody and during question gave information that led to the arrest of Balais and Perez.
Marian Salgado, a counselor with Hollywood’s Teen Achievement Association says Balais and Gonzalez called her, and she helped bring them in. She says her organization has counseled them for years.
“They’ve been neglected from one home, to another home,” said Salgado.
And despite the cruel acts police have charged them with, Salgado says the teen boys are not bad people.
“They’re quiet, they’ll listen to you and they need love.”
According to police reports, on March 10th there were two robberies at the beach. The first happened around midnight in the 600 block of the Broadwalk when three males and a female stole a purse from a woman. A short time later the group also beat up a man in the same area and stole $16 thousand in jewelry.READ MORE: FEMA-Funded South Florida Sites To Administer First Doses Of Pfizer Vaccines
Further investigation, led to a witness to one of the robberies who told investigators she was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Perez on March 9 just before 11:00 p.m. and watched as Balais, Gonzalez and Wakula got out of the vehicle and robbed Ihar Miatselitsa in the 12-hundred block of Hollywood Boulevard. The woman said the trio got away with Miatselitsa’s bag of groceries which they later threw away.
Police say they’ve also been able to tie the teens to a March 5th robbery, also in the 600 block of the Broadwalk.
Don Hendrickson said he was walking home early in the morning when a teen approached and asked him for a dollar.
“I said, ‘Sorry. I don’t,’ Hendrickson said. “I started to walk away. In the meantime, I turned my back and the other three guys jumped me.”
Hendrickson said the attack lasted 10-15 minutes and left him with two black eyes, swollen ears and various cuts and scrapes.
“My son said I looked like I went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali,” he said.
His attackers got away with his wallet and about $300.
Two of the teens were also charged in the April 10th robbery of 76-year old Paul Spates.
The snowbird said he was in the 500 block of the Broadwalk in the middle of his morning walk when he saw two guys walking towards him who appeared to be drunk. When they got near to him, Spates said they jumped him.
“He said ‘Do you have any water’ and I said ‘I don’t have any water, I don’t have any money, I don’t have nothing’,” recalled Spates. “Right away he punched my face and then I fell down and he started kicking me and I ‘Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me’.”MORE NEWS: CVS, NAACP Team Up To Get COVID Vaccines To People Of Color In South Florida
Spates said one of his attacker then grabbed a rock or brick and slammed it into his head. They got away with Spates’ $19 Timex watch and his house keys.