Fake Gun Scare Prompts Police Response in Twin Cities Park

August 12, 2017 10:25 PM

St. Louis Park police are urging parents not to allow children to carry replica firearms in public places after two teens with toy guns prompted a police response Friday.

According to the St. Louis Park Police Department, dispatch received a 911 call Friday night around 8 p.m., that a teen was spotted near Peter Hobart Elementary carrying a pistol.

"When they got to the back of the school, they discovered two teenagers, holding what eventually came known to us as air soft guns," Sgt. Paul Barnes said. "In the heat of the moment, they looked very real and this could have been a horrible tragedy for us."

Officers responded to the scene and located one of the teens running. The teen turned toward the officers and pointed the one of the guns in their direction. The teen also grabbed another toy gun from his waistband, according to police.

Police said, "the situation did not seem right to the officer," and he was able to make the distinction that the firearm was actually a replica.

"I think the fact that we're in a park, behind a school, in an evening where there's other families around kind of gives you an idea that there wasn't a big threatening scene going on," Barnes said. "The whole situation just lent itself to the officer recognizing something else is going on here and that extra moment allowed for a good ending."

The department said they were pleased a, "potentially dangerous situation ended well."

St. Louis Park Mayor Jake Spano praised the officers involved during a press conference Saturday afternoon.

"These things look real and it is almost impossible, especially in the conditions of this one, behind a building, at dusk, very hard to discern what this toy is made of," Spano said. "{I'm} really, really pleased that the officer took that extra split second to just wait, a moment, and make the right decision."

The teens, both males ages 13 and 14, were briefly detained at the scene, according to Barnes. They were later released to their parents, who "expressed concern" over the whole situation, according to police.

The Washington Post reported that in 2016, 43 people with replica guns were fatally shot by police. In 2015, police also killed 42 people with replica firearms.



Ben Rodgers

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