BELLEVUE, Wash. – Bellevue Police once again came up against a teenager wielding a toy gun. Officers said the boy came within inches of being shot to death. The guns teens play with are the same types Bellevue officers use for training. It's impossible to tell them apart from the distance.
Their realism is the appeal, but it also creates the danger.
Seventeen-year-old Bryan Brooks isn't cavalier about the game he was playing that almost got his best friend killed.
"The cop said drop your weapon or else I'm going to blow your brains out," said Bryan.
Bryan and three of his friends were playing in his neighborhood with Airsoft pistols that look and feel exactly like the real thing.
Bellevue cops have faced this problem before – boys playing modern-day Cowboys and Indians with very realistic weapons.
They fire plastic pellets, but a neighbor looking out her window only saw teens jumping over fences with guns and called police. When confronted by the officer, Bryan's friend refused to drop his pistol.
"I was telling him to drop the gun, but he was selfish, he didn't want it to shatter," said Bryan.
"The officer almost shot the kid. Had that kid raised the barrel, even an inch, the officer would have fired a round," said Officer Michael Chiu, Bellevue Police Dept. Bellevue officers have shown amazing restraint, but these fake guns aren't going away. They can easily be purchased on the Internet or at gun shows, and Bryan's father worries at some point a kid is going to get killed.
"It's heartbreaking to realize that kids have taken these games so far to reality, it's just very scary," said Sloan Brooks, Bryan's father.
He will now make sure Bryan stays away from the Airsoft weapons unless the environment is completely controlled.
"We'll definitely be more careful," he said.
There are designated areas for this type of play, including one in Snoqualmie. But officers advise using these toy weapons only indoors, making sure everyone within sight knows it is just a game, and locking them up so no one will confuse them with the real thing.
It's not illegal to own the fake guns, but it is illegal if you use them to threaten someone.
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