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9 Granger football players charged in robbery crime spree

Published: Tuesday, June 30 2015 2:45 a.m. MDT

Kearns and Granger high schools play a game on Oct. 17, 2012, at Kearns High. Police say nine players on the Granger team have been banned from playing football by a judge this fall because of an alleged robbery crime spree that occurred in May. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News) Kearns and Granger high schools play a game on Oct. 17, 2012, at Kearns High. Police say nine players on the Granger team have been banned from playing football by a judge this fall because of an alleged robbery crime spree that occurred in May. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

WEST VALLEY CITY — Nine Granger High School football players — including several seniors — have been banned from playing football by a judge this season because of an alleged crime spree that occurred in May.

In addition, the group also faces potential additional penalties from 3rd District Juvenile Court.

On May 3, eight teens drove though the city just before 11 p.m., randomly stopping to assault and rob other juveniles, said West Valley Police Sgt. Jason Hauer.

"Basically they began an aggravated robbery crime spree — physically assaulting juveniles and stealing their property," he said.

In each case, the group would pull up to the victims in a Ford Explorer, get out, assault the victims and rob them of whatever personal property they were carrying, such as iPods and phones, Hauer said.

High school students prepare for a soccer game at Granger High School in West Valley City on Sept. 13, 2011. Police say nine players on the Granger High football team have been banned from playing by a judge this fall because of an alleged robbery crime spree that occurred in May. (Mike Terry, Deseret News) High school students prepare for a soccer game at Granger High School in West Valley City on Sept. 13, 2011. Police say nine players on the Granger High football team have been banned from playing by a judge this fall because of an alleged robbery crime spree that occurred in May. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

The first incident was near 3300 S. Decker Lake Drive (2155 West). The second was near 3200 West and 3200 South. Prior to the third incident just before midnight, the group had picked up a ninth juvenile. The third robbery was near 4100 South and 4200 West.

All six of the victims were between the ages of 13 and 15, Hauer said. Five of the football players were 17, three were 16 and one was 15. None of the victims knew their alleged assailants, Hauer said. One of the victims was treated at a local hospital for a broken jaw.

Shortly after the third incident and after detectives learned that the same vehicle was involved in each, an officer spotted the Explorer and pulled it over. Investigators learned the teens on their way to allegedly commit a fourth robbery when they were stopped, according to Hauer.

All nine were charged in juvenile court. As of Wednesday, five of the teens had pleaded guilty. Trials or other court hearings for the remaining four are scheduled for September.

Most were charged in juvenile court with various counts of robbery, a second-degree felony. Among the most serious charges, two pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, and five counts of robbery, a second-degree felony.

Hauer said the motivation for the series of robberies was still unknown Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, no determination had been made on most of the students' status at Granger High, Granite School District spokesman Horsley said. He said school officials are still waiting for additional instructions from the court. Two of the students charged, however, were attending Granger on special permits and will have those permits revoked.

The Granite School District also confirmed that a judge had ordered all nine students not to play football this fall.

Granger High football coach Cecil Thomas referred all questions to Principal Jerry Haslam, who said the incidents were not a school-related matter.

“I don’t have any statement on that,” Haslam said. “That doesn’t have anything to do with the school. It has nothing to do with the school.”

When it was noted that those arrested were all football players, Haslam again deferred comment. “I’m not going to make any comment on this story,” he said. “Whatever you’ve gotten from the district is great, but no I have no comment whatsoever.”

Both Thomas and Haslam refused to say whether the players accused in the crime spree are still practicing, if any will remain eligible for the season or if any action has been taken against the players internally.

In an unrelated incident, nine members of the Granger High football team were taken to hospitals Wednesday morning after apparently suffering heat exhaustion during practice at the school. All were in good condition.

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