Former Tuskegee airman Jesse Rutledge, 88, had his Jeep SUV taken at gunpoint March 2, 2013 in Detroit(Detroit Free Press)
DETROIT (USA TODAY/DETROIT FREE PRESS) -- Prosecutors announced carjacking charges Monday against four teenage boys from Detroit accused of stealing an 88-year-old former Tuskegee airman's SUV at gunpoint.
The teens -- ages 13, 14, 15 and 16 -- had a preliminary hearing Monday and are due back in court later this month, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.
At first, Jesse Rutledge didn't think anything was amiss when a group of teens approached him Saturday afternoon as he was leaving a barbershop at Harper and Van Dyke in Detroit.
"They were so little and young," said Rutledge of Detroit.
Then the smallest boy flashed a gun.
"They said, 'Give me your keys! Give me your keys!" Rutledge recalled Monday. He pulled his keys from his front pants pocket and watched them drive off in his black 1999 Jeep Cherokee.
"It looks like their dad and momma should be charged. ... They're teenagers. They just need teaching or something."
- Jesse Rutledge, ex-Tuskegee Airman
Prosecutor's Office officials said the teens were arrested Sunday and have been charged as juveniles. Maria Miller, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor's Office, said the 15-year-old alleged gunman received a $75,000 bond. The other teens each received a $50,000 bond.
A pretrial hearing has been scheduled for March 20.
Rutledge was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African Americans who served various roles in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
Rutledge said he was drafted into the military at age 18. He served as a gunner on a B25 bomber over Japan.
Rutledge said he later moved to Detroit and eventually ran various businesses, including a Laundromat, shoe repair shop and ice cream parlor, in the area of the barbershop he visited Saturday.
Rutledge said when he was slow to retrieve his car keys from his pocket, the gunman racked the gun and called him a racial epithet.
"I've heard that too many times," Rutledge said of the slur, explaining that he faced racial discrimination while growing up in Alabama and in the military.
Rutledge said the gunman "jumped in that car and took off like he owned it," along with the other teens. Rutledge called police from the barbershop. He said he was glad he wasn't hurt.
"It looks like their dad and momma should be charged. ... They're teenagers," Rutledge said. "They just need teaching or something. If they keep going like this, someone is going to get killed, or they're going to get killed."