Teens caught looting Portage mall hit by tornado

Teens caught looting Portage mall hit by tornado

PORTAGE (WWJ) — Two teenagers are in trouble with the law after being caught looting in a West Michigan town ravaged by a tornado.

Local police in hard-hit Portage, near Kalamazoo, are planning additional patrols in storm-affected areas after looters struck a shopping center damaged by Tuesday’s tornado.

WWJ’s Jonathan Carlson reports that Portage police arrested two teenagers accused of rummaging through one of the destroyed businesses and leaving with stolen items in their hands.

13 On Your Side said it happened around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at the W. Center Ave. mall and the business owner told police he wanted to press charges.

An 18-year-old suspect from Galesburg was taken into custody, along with a younger teenage girl from Kalamazoo who was released to her parents.

No information has been released about the stolen items.

The case was sent to the prosecutor’s office for examination.

The National Weather Service confirmed that a powerful EF-2 tornado touched down in Portage around 6 p.m. Tuesday, causing significant damage to homes, a shopping center and a FedEx facility. With peak winds estimated at 135 mph, the tornado was about 1,000 feet wide and was on the ground for about 11 miles. A second tornado that reportedly struck Portage an hour later was never confirmed by the NWS.

Three more tornadoes struck elsewhere in West Michigan the same night, leading to a disaster declaration by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

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