Austin police, schools warn about realistic toy weapons, ‘potentially dangerous’ use

(ABC 6 News) – This week, an on-duty officer saw a teenager in an Austin park with a real-looking toy gun. An incident that created concern and worry.

"I don’t think that we can simply say it’s just a toy, forget about it. We all know and have read the news that people have died with a toy in their hands," said Captain Todd Clennon with the Austin Police Department.

Earlier this week at a park in the middle of the afternoon, an officer saw a teenager hiding behind a car with a real-looking toy gun. Not knowing it was a toy, the officer treated the situation as they would when a real gun is involved.

It looks just like a normal gun but the orange cap is one of the ways police know it’s a toy. The problem is, that cap could easily fall off and depending on how someone is holding it, someone might think it’s real.

"The initial fear when you see that, is you have somebody who wants to cause harm to our community. It looks nothing like the multi-colored toy squirt guns that you get for a few bucks. Or, even some of the airsoft toys. This, this splat arns looks like a real firearm."

Since the incident, police have reached out to Austin Public Schools warning there could be students planning to use these toys outside of school. Potentially, for a bad reason.

In a Facebook post – Superintendent Joey Page is asking parents to have conversations with their children about the dangers of using real-looking toy guns in a public setting.

"I would just encourage parents, teachers, mentors in young lives, be aware of what they’re up to. Please give them some guidance," added Captain Clennon.

There could be criminal charges if a toy injures someone or damages property. Those charges depend on the person’s age.

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(ABC 6 News) – Austin police and schools have both warned young people away from realistic-looking toy weapons in the past day, citing potential legal and safety consequences.

Austin officials appear concerned that children and/or teens could use realistic-looking toy guns to target or frighten people in the community.

"Austin Public Schools has been notified by local law enforcement that there may be students planning to participate in activities outside of school that could be potentially dangerous," APS superintendent Joey Page posted on Facebook Thursday. "The activities may include using splat, water, or squirt guns to target unsuspecting people and classmates, including entering homes. This could have students recklessly driving and breaking traffic rules, trespassing on private property, and frightening others. Please have a conversation with your child about the dangers of using toys that may look like actual weapons, harming other individuals, and entering onto or into a property that is not theirs."

Austin police posted a photo of a recently-recovered "splatter-ball-type gun," with a warning to parents and children about the possible legal and even deadly consequences of carrying and firing toy guns in public.

"If you are a parent and your child or teenager wants a realistic “toy” gun such as the one pictured, please keep in mind the same realistic look that attracted your child or teen to the gun is going to pose a danger if they take these out in public," APD wrote. "…One could expect to perhaps face charges if you damage property in some way by shooting these or shoot an unsuspecting person. That will likely lead to a law enforcement contact or perhaps an interaction with someone who believes that they need to defend themselves in relation to a perceived threat based on the nature of how that ‘toy’ gun looks."

 ABC 6 News Now