TIGARD, Ore. (KOIN) — For “the second time in a matter of days,” Tigard police responded to a call about a youth with a gun — but they didn’t know if the gun was real or a replica.
In Monday’s incident, officers were called about someone shooting at cars, fences and windows at a Tigard apartment complex. Witnesses said they didn’t know if the gun was real or fake.
“The caller couldn’t confirm if it was an Airsoft or if it was a real gun, but he was pointing it at cars and property and possibly people as he was running around the parking lot,” said School Resource Officer Nicholas Nunn.
The teen complied to the orders the officers gave him and the situation was defused. Officers then determined it was a realistic-looking BB gun.
The 16-year-old was detained, charged with disorderly conduct and returned to his mother’s custody.
“This is the second time in a week where we’ve had an incident involving a teenage kid playing with a replica gun,” Nunn said.
On June 15, Tigard police caught 4 kids, between 10-14 years old, shoplifting at Macy’s at Washington Square Mall. The 14-year-old flashed a realistic-looking replica gun at an employee who tried to stop them. That teen is now charged with 2nd-degree robbery and heading to juvenile detention center.
Officers say replica guns like this look very real.
“Until we get our hands on it we really can’t say for sure whether it’s real or a replica,” Officer Anela Ceric told KOIN 6 News.
Fake guns are supposed to have an orange tip on them. However, many people remove the orange tip to make it appear real. Authorities also say criminals put orange tips on real guns to try and make them seem fake.
That’s why, in the heat of the moment, officers won’t know if it’s a real gun or a replica — unless the suspect cooperates and puts the gun down.
Officers want parents to be aware of this behavior.
“I’m working with kids that are high school age and we’re seeing more and more kids playing with replica guns and just not thinking of the consequences that could come with their actions of playing with these guns, specifically out in the open,” Nunn said.
If your child has an Airsoft gun, police say they need to be taught how to use them appropriately so they don’t alarm people around them.
With summer break now here, Tigard police are worried this could happen again. And they can’t stress this point enough:
Officers often have no way of telling the difference between a replica gun and a real one. Using one in public – let alone during a crime – creates an incredibly dangerous situation for everyone.