CLEVELAND -- Last Saturday, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer after he was seen at Cudell Rec Center with what police thought was a real gun.
It turned out to be a BB gun that looked like the real thing.
Cleveland cops say they are noticing more kids on the streets with BB guns that resemble real weapons, and it’s often very difficult, if not impossible, for officers to be able to tell the difference.
On May 21, Cleveland police Officer Aaron Reese thought he had a male pointing a rifle at cars on Superior Avenue near 86th Street.
“Send me another car, 86 and Superior, I have a male running north bound with a rifle,” Reese can be heard telling a dispatcher over his police radio.
When the officer approached the suspect, he fled. The officer ran after the suspect, yelling at him to get down and drop the weapon.
The suspect complied.
Reese was shocked when he went to handcuff the suspect, and noticed the small wrists. He then realized he was dealing with a juvenile. A few moments later he examined the weapon.
“Radio it was a BB gun, I’m OK,” Reese said over the radio.
The officer brought the boy home to his parents, who didn’t know he had a gun. The boy was not criminally charged, but officers wanted to make sure the boy understood how dangerous his actions were, so he was ordered to write a letter letting them know what he learned.
“I was stupid to have a BB gun that looks real enough to may have been shot and killed by anyone who saw or carried a real gun,” the letter stated. “I was also stupid to walk down the main street with it. I should have just kept it with my brother’s friend and shouldn’t have touched it at all. Even though I was walking, I was thinking in my head what if I get caught also what if I get killed. I am sincerely sorry for having the gun.”
Police said it is extremely important for children to realize the dangers they face by having BB guns. They urge parents to talk to their kids about these items and not allow them to possess a BB gun without parental supervision.