North Fort Worth burglary suspects, both 17, identified

Posted Friday, Oct. 26, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- Two suspected burglars shot by a neighbor Thursday afternoon in a bizarre run-in with Fort Worth police and a civilian who was riding along with officers have been identified as Joseph Michael Ross and Levi Gouge, both 17.

Ross, who suffered a minor arm injury in the shooting, was released from a hospital and booked into the Mansfield jail with bail set at $23,500.

Gouge remained hospitalized Friday in good condition with gunshot wounds to the leg and hip, said Major Paul Henderson, a police spokesman.

Both face charges of burglary of a habitation and evading arrest.

Police suspect the two teens used a baseball bat to break the glass of a back door and gain entry into a home in the 10000 block of Tulare Lane in far north Fort Worth around 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

A woman, who had been inside the house, heard the men trying to break into her home, called 911, and fled to a neighbor's house.

Two Fort Worth patrol units arrived on the scene as the two men were trying to make their get-away in a compact Ford car, Henderson said.

As one of the officers gave chase on foot, a 31-year-old civilian participating in the department's ride-along program also jumped from the patrol car and ran toward one of the suspects, who was getting into the car. The other suspect was behind the wheel of the car, which then backed toward a patrol car, Henderson said.

At this point, a 55-year-old neighbor armed with a .45-caliber handgun stepped into the street and fired at the car as the vehicle started coming toward him, Henderson said.

"According to the report and according to his (the neighbor's) statement, he really thought the ride-in was a detective. He thought the car was trying to run over him," Henderson said.

Neither officers, nor the neighbor or civilian, were hurt.

Henderson said investigators will confer with the Tarrant County District Attorney's office to determine if any charges will be filed against the neighbor since it appears he may have been firing at the suspects in defense of the ride-along civilian and potentially himself.

Police recovered property believed taken in the burglary, including a television and two gaming systems found in the front yard.

The ride-along program pairs an officer with a civilian who wants to observe patrol work in person. The civilians must sign waivers freeing the department of any liability for any injuries or damages that happen during a patrol and are given written instructions not to get involved in an incident unless specifically asked by the officer, in accordance with state law.

Henderson said that the officer never requested the ride-in's assistance.

"She never told him to get out of the car and didn't summon his aide," Henderson said. "He took it upon himself."

Henderson said the department doesn't recommend citizens get involved in "those kind of confrontations or get involved in any police actions unless absolutely necessary because it's life-threatening."

"He's very lucky that none of those rounds fired by the neighbor struck him," Henderson said. "Very lucky."

Henderson said in the wake of Thursday's shooting, the department will reemphasize the ride-in policy and procedures "and that taking police action is very dangerous."

"Police officers are trained for these situations whereas a ride-in, a citizen, is not," Henderson said.

Deanna Boyd, (817) -390

Twitter: @deannaboyd

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