Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Police warn about air guns after teenager is nearly shot

Manhattan Beach police Sgt. Robert Cochran heard the call come over the radio: Two men with rifles atop a storage shed at Polliwog Park.

The report came the same day terrorists struck in London.

Cochran, the first officer to arrive, saw the men, took high ground, pointed his rifle at them and looked through the scope.

"There was a bunch of kids on the playground," Cochran said. "I'm thinking, 'Are these guys here to shoot kids?' "

Cochran could see the butt of a rifle sticking out of a case. Three other police officers arrived, surrounded the men and aimed their guns at them.

Just as one man looked as if he was going to pull the rifle out of the case, officers yelled for him to drop the weapon.

"Immediately he drops it," Cochran said. "Thank goodness. I was scared he was pulling a rifle out."

Cochran said he likely would have fired to protect his fellow officers and possibly killed the man.

Had he fired, Cochran would have shot a 17-year-old boy videotaping a homemade movie with a couple of friends.

"There was no doubt in my mind it was a real gun," Cochran said.

The call -- and avoidance of a tragedy -- prompted Manhattan Beach police to issue a warning for teenagers and their parents for the second time in two years.

Airsoft guns, which shoot plastic pellets and are meant for target practice, look real and can be mistaken by police officers as a deadly threat, Manhattan Beach police Capt. Randy Leaf said.

"Police officers, when they get a call of something, they don't know what the story is," Leaf said. "They have to assume it's a man with a gun. Things could go bad pretty quickly."

Two more incidents occurred in the next few days, sparking a decision by authorities that the public needs to be warned that such guns pose a deadly threat to the shooter, and that they are illegal to discharge in the city.

• At 8:37 p.m. July 8, a police officer on patrol saw something fired from the back and side windows of a pickup truck as it turned from Manhattan Beach Boulevard to Sepulveda Boulevard.

The officer, believing the shooter was firing at two bicyclists, stopped the truck. As he did, someone called police to report being shot in the left thigh by the occupants of the truck.

Police cited the teens and confiscated four airsoft handguns, an airsoft rifle and five containers of plastic BBs.

• At noon Monday, police received a call of a drive-by shooting at Highland and Marine avenues. A pedestrian was shot by someone with an airsoft gun as he walked down the street.

Airsoft guns fire round plastic BBs or ceramic projectiles. According to police, many will fire a 6 mm projectile at speeds up to 310 feet per second.

Manhattan Beach has a law making it illegal to shoot an air gun without a permit from the chief of police. The code includes airsoft guns, BB guns, slingshots, bows and arrows and firearms.

"The greatest concern to law enforcement officers is the way these guns look and feel," Leaf said. "Most airsoft guns mimic the style and design of a real firearm."

Two years ago, Manhattan Beach police issued a warning about the guns after a teenager playing on the roof of Grand View Elementary School turned and fired an airsoft gun at a police officer.

Tragedy was averted because the officer realized the gun was a toy.

Federal law mandates that airsoft guns carry an orange band around the barrel, but police officers sometimes have trouble seeing them, Leaf said.

Joey Vigil, who sells air guns at Airsoft Extreme in Torrance, said these guns have grown in popularity in the last few years.

"I tell my customers to treat them like real guns, not to show up with them in public. I like pre-qualify them," Vigil said. "If they don't have the mental capacity to own guns, I won't sell it to them or if they are acting stupid."

Cochran said airsoft guns should be used at home and not brought out into public like the boys did at the park.

"Were they doing anything against the law? No," Cochran said. "Could it have gotten them killed? Yes."

Friday, July 08, 2005

Police Say Students Brought Gun To School

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego police detained two young students Thursday morning for allegedly bringing an air gun to school.

Officials told NBC 7/39 that the 14-year-old boys brought the air gun to Farb Middle School in the 4800 block of La Cuenta Drive in Tierrasanta.

Susan Levy, who is the principal at Farb, told that a parent called police after seeing at least one of the boys playing with the gun at a bus stop. Police began their investigation shortly after arriving on campus, calling students out of class and interviewing them. Eventually, a female student was able to lead detectives to one of the boys, according to Levy.

The Airsoft pistol that was confiscated fires a plastic projectile with the aid of a CO2 cartridge and is manufactured to closely resemble an actual weapon. Levy said the gun had an orange barrel tip, which is used to differentiate it from a real gun.

The boys were still being questioned on campus by police at 11 a.m. Levy said the boys will be arrested and that they will both be recommended for expulsion under the school district's zero-tolerance policy. There is no word yet on what charges will be filed against the teens.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

University To Close Fraternity For Hazing

The UC Berkeley chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity will be shut down for a year and reopened with new members and a ban on alcohol as punishment for an April hazing incident, university officials announced Tuesday.
The settlement, reached between the campus and the fraternity last month, will strip the fraternity of its current membership and allow it to reopen in fall 2006, provided that it follows a host of conditions.

The punishment is the university’s response to an incident on April 8, when police say at least three chapter members took turns repeatedly shooting a pledge with Airsoft pellets loaded in a BB gun after he refused to tell them the location of other pledges.

Because the settlement shuts down the house for a year, it has forced both the president and vice president of the UC Berkeley Interfraternity Council, both Pi Kappa Phi members, to resign.

Dean of Students Karen Kenney called the punishment the strongest against any campus fraternity in the last 15 years. She said the university had been close to permanently revoking the fraternity’s charter.

“In the absence of the dedicated partnership of the national (Pi Kappa Phi) organization, we would have completely eliminated the fraternity from university recognition,” she said.

The agreement puts a number of conditions on the chapter’s return, including a ban on alcohol in the chapter house until 2008, a live-in adult house director for at least five years, a $4,000 fine and 750 hours of community service.

All 35 current members have been transferred to “alumni status” by the fraternity’s national organization, and only up to four of them will be allowed back in for the fall 2006 semester.

The three individuals involved still face additional punishment from the university’s Student Judicial Affairs office, said UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore.

The hazing punishment marks one one of several incidents last semester that drew negative publicity to the Greek community, including a fight at a Kappa Alpha Psi-sponsored ferry party on May 1 which resulted in four arrests. The university responded to the semester’s events in May by indefinitely banning alcohol at the campus’s 70 fraternities and sororities.

Campus and national fraternity officials called the moratorium on alcohol harsh but necessary.

Mark Timmes, the chief executive officer of the Pi Kappa Phi national organization, said yesterday that he supported the punishment, and that the members of the fraternity had “fallen victim to what we call groupthink.”

“For Pi Kapp, it’s an embarrassment,” he said. “But they’ve done some good things—it wasn’t that the culture was so rotten that it couldn’t be saved.”

Sam Endicott, a member of Pi Kappa Phi who stepped down from his post as president of the Interfraternity Council last month, agreed that the punishment was appropriate.

“I’m disappointed that 95 years of Pi Kapp history ended that way,” he said. “A few members messed up, and the whole organization needs to be accountable to the members’ actions,” he said.

The future of the chapter is uncertain. Two representatives from the fraternity’s national organization will help recruit a new house membership in fall 2006, Timmes said, but they will be forced to do so with no returning leadership and a ban on alcohol.

Sam Kim, a member of Pi Kappa Phi, said the chapter was already facing recruiting difficulties before the hazing.

“About a year and a half ago, we had a membership of 55, and we’ve fallen far from that now,” Kim said. “Let’s hope that nationals can work out some kind of magic and get us back on track.”

Kim criticized the university’s investigation—which found substance, weapons, hazing and abuse violations from the hazing incident—as inaccurate. But he said even he does not know exactly what happened.

“The only people who really know what happened were the people there shooting the pledge with the air gun,” he said.

Airsoft General Information Websites

Airsoft Retreat
Airsoft Players
Arnie's Airsoft
Airsoft Splat
Hung Airsoft
Airsoft Wholesale
Airsoft Core
Airsoft Airsplot

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Military simulation Demo Days to be held in Rochester

ROCHESTER — Interested in military simulation? Like playing with specially designed devices that project small pellets?

Then get involved in the first Demo Days event to take place in New England on July 16 at Waste Management's Turnkey facility. It's a two-day, overnight warlike event that will benefit the families of soldiers.

The "airsoft" event is like paintball but the pellets go farther and are more accurate. Organizers says it's an honorable game. Waivers will have to be signed.

Planning Board member Rick Healey the event has been ready to go for months. He said he informed the police so they don't think a militia is trying to take over the city.

Registration begins at 7 a.m. July 16. Admission is $20. There will be a 9 a.m. briefing and then the fun begins. For more information call (603) 978-5349.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Shots of new CA products at Spartan Imports

Emory Sung over at Spartan Imports has sent in photos of the new Classic Army releases. They have no release news on the G36 or K variants at the moment. Classic Army has set the worldwide release date for both the M15A4 CQB and the CA249 MKII as July 20th, 2005. Here's the latest photos:

Summer Contest 2005!

Summer Contest 2005! First prize will be an ICS M4a1 from, and the 2nd and third prizes are still be determined but will include ASC T-shirts, a Smith & Wesson 1911 Ultra Grade pistol, and a $100 worth of gift certificates. Visit the Contest Page and Official Discussion Thread for more information!

Airsoft Warehouse website updates

Barry at Airsoft Warehouse has sent in news that they've reworked their retail website. Their site is easier to get around now (at least easier than I last remember) and looks good on a standard screen; a lot of the front page text is actually image based though so it may take a bit to load on a slow connection:
Airsoft Warehouse would like to announce that their web site has now been re-launched after extensive redevelopment work. We have added images to nearly every item and also added loads of new products. We will continue to add products from existing manufacturers and also several new manufacturers over the next few months. We will have the new Classic Army M15 A4 CQB on sale in the next few weeks (watch this space for the unbelievable price when it is announced).

The Classic Army M249 will also be in the shops shortly at an unbelievable £649.99. We are not taking deposits as the launch dates keep changing and we would prefer the money stayed in your pocket rather than ours. However please feel free to register your interest as we will have sufficient stock to cater for demand. Barry, Airsoft Warehouse Limited)

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Pellet gun gives neighbors a scare

An 87-year-old Parkhurst Drive resident contacted authorities, June 23, after finding a gun in his front yard. The gun with an orange tip appeared to be an Airsoft pistol, a highly realistic handgun that shoots plastic BBs. The gun was booked into evidence.

Friday, July 01, 2005

BB gun lands student in hot water

Forgetfulness, bad timing and a mistake, say David Harper's family, have landed the Pennridge High School student in an alternative school for having a BB gun on school property.

The 17-year-old will begin the school year at the Upper Bucks Alternative School after school officials searched his truck in late May and found a black Airsoft BB pistol with orange tip used for target practice and paintball-like shooting games.

Wendie Harper says her son had no intention of using it and had simply forgotten to take it out of his truck after using the gun over the weekend with friends.

On May 23, David Harper was leaving the parking lot of Pennridge High School and was stopped in traffic at the Blooming Glen Road exit. He was rummaging through his glove compartment for touch-up paint, but the gun was in the way. He pulled it out and had it in his hand with his truck window down when a school bus drove by.

Aboard, a mother chaperoning her child's class trip saw the pistol and contacted the school the next day.

"It was not as bad as it looked," said his mother, who acknowledged, "It looked bad."

"He's not a mean and malicious kid. But that's what (the woman) saw."

The next day, school officials searched Harper's car and found the BB gun still in the glove compartment.

"Walking to the truck (for the search) and I had no idea what was going on," said David Harper. "Later on I remembered it was in there."

Harper has not been expelled, but has been excluded from school for at least a semester, said principal Tom Creeden. The district favors placing students in alternative settings with the hope of having them return without an expulsion on their records.

Creeden called the process a plea bargain. The Harpers don't agree with their son's punishment but decided to forgo a hearing before the school board because if David were expelled by the board it would be on his permanent record.

There have been only a couple of expulsions over the last few years in Pennridge. Unlike some schools, Pennridge does not have a zero tolerance policy for offenses such as weapons possession, said Creeden. Each student and situation are looked at individually.

Ten students were placed in alternative schools last year, he said. The offenses that warrant placement include drug and alcohol uses, weapons possession, persistent discipline problems, violence and harassment.

"We realize good kids make mistakes," said Creeden. "We try not to make a scar for the rest of their life. We develop a plan for David like we do with every kid. Working with teenagers, there are no set rules. We're looking at each kid, each offense and go from there."

Wendie Harper believes her son should be reprimanded but does not agree with the punishment. She described David as a good kid, not a troublemaker and a 'C' student, with some As and Bs.

If David completes the alternative school program, his record will not reflect the offense. Besides classes, the school provides counseling and various forms of therapy. Students are evaluated daily and when alternative school officials feel students are ready to return to their home schools, they meet with the district, parents and students, said Robert Spratt, director of alternative education for Youth Services, which operates the school at Lake Nockamixon.

Police referred Harper's case to the Youth Aid Panel, made up of community members, juvenile court representatives, and a police representative, who make recommendations about punishment, such as restitution, community service or charges.

Pennridge Police Chief David Mettin, whose department has possession of the pistol, said that if Harper completes the panel's program he would not be charged. "It's a large punishment to be expelled from school. That's a very large penalty right there."

David is "not very thrilled" about spending part of his senior year at the alternative school. It means the defensive lineman for the Pennridge Rams will miss the football season. And he doesn't "want to be with people who do drugs," he said.

But his mom said, "I'm determined to not make it a bad experience (for him). He's not there to make friends. He's there to get back to Pennridge."

David has chosen to attend the alternative school over home-schooling or private school because he wants to graduate with his class next June. Post graduation, he hopes to attend either Lock Haven or West Chester University to major in communications or law enforcement.

Wendie said her son just wants to get on with his life and "he won't be having any unsupervised pistols."