Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Airsoft gun at school causes lockdown

A 14-year-old student at Bellevue's Highland Middle School was released to his father and is expected to be expelled from classes after a replica of a gun was found in his backpack Wednesday.

Police were called to the school at 15027 N.E. Bellevue-Redmond Road just after 10 a.m. after a student told a teacher about another student who was believed to have a pistol in a backpack.

The school went into lockdown.

The principal contacted the student, secured a backpack and detained the student.

A silver Airsoft pistol, found in the backpack, was turned over to police. The required orange markings on the barrel, intended to quickly identify it as not being a real gun, had been removed, police said.

The student is not believed to have made threats, and because the device was not an actual firearm and no assault occurred, no charges are anticipated, although the student is expected to be expelled for violating school-weapons regulations, police said.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Gun report turns out to be airsoft pistol

A report of a man with a gun led six police officers to two men who were playing with airsoft pistols in the 900 block of North Main Street on Monday afternoon, Ann Arbor police said.

A caller told police that a man was holding a handgun at 4:15 p.m. and described the man and another man who was with him, reports said. Officers saw the man holding a gun at his side, and officers drew their weapons and ordered the men to drop the gun and lie down, reports said.

The men complied and said the weapons were airsoft pistols, which shoot plastic pellets and look like real firearms, reports said. The men, a 39-year-old Inkster resident and 26-year-old Ann Arbor resident, were identified and released.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Danville Student Faces Felony Charges for Airsoft Pellet Gun

MOUNT VERNON — A Danville student accused of shooting classmates with a pellet gun will face felony charges for inducing panic.

Assistant Knox County Prosecutor Rob Broeren said the Knox County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Thomas J. Wine, 18, with inducing panic, a fourth-degree felony. Wine also faces two misdemeanor assault charges, which will now be bound over from Mount Vernon Municipal Court.

“After reviewing the actions of Mr. Wine, the office of the Knox County Prosecutor believes that the recklessness of his actions led to the lockdown at the Danville High School and elementary school and caused significant panic,” said Broeren, “thus justifying the filing of a felony inducing panic charge.”

The lockdown occurred Friday, when students riding the bus back to Danville from the Knox County Career Center exited the vehicle to find Wine waiting.

Wine, a senior at the career center who was not in school on Friday, allegedly pulled out an airsoft gun and began shooting a male juvenile with the 6 mm plastic pellets.

Danville Police Chief Monte Vance said the two students had been involved in an altercation earlier that week. Vance added that other students were allegedly hit with pellets and that the sight of Wine with the pellet gun caused panic among the students.

Vance apprehended Wine shortly after Wine fled the scene, and had him incarcerated at the Knox County Jail on a $5,000 bond.

According to the Knox County Prosecutor’s Office, case law did not support felony charges based on the pellet gun, which is not considered a firearm or a deadly weapon. However, officials later decided to press felony charges based on the panic that Wine’s alleged actions caused among the other students.

Wine remains incarcerated in the Knox County Jail.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006


BOSTON -- Attorney General Tom Reilly today demanded that six Internet retailers and one Massachusetts store owner stop selling "look-alike" air rifles and BB guns to minors. AG Reilly issued the demand letters, which also inform the companies of his intent to sue, following an undercover investigation where a 16-year-old boy successfully purchased several of these weapons in violation of Massachusetts law.

"These 'look-alike' weapons are dangerous, and should not be in the hands of children," AG Reilly said. "Local police departments use air rifles and BB guns in training exercises because they are so much like the real thing. But now police are finding these guns are used to commit crimes, and kids are bringing them to school. It's not safe. Retailers have got to stop selling these weapons to children."

The guns, commonly referred to as "airsoft" guns, are high powered, often semi- or fully automatic, and fire plastic or metal pellets that can inflict serious injuries. They pose an additional safety risk because they are designed to look and feel exactly like real guns. Many air rifles and BB guns bear brand names, model numbers and logos. Massachusetts law prohibits the sale of an air rifle or BB gun to a minor under 18 years old.

AG Reilly conducted an undercover sting operation over the past year in response to growing concerns about the misuse of air rifles and BB guns. AG Reilly enlisted the help of a 16-year-old boy who was easily able to purchase these guns online from two large national sporting goods retailers -- Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc. and The Sports Authority, Inc. -- using gift cards purchased from local stores. Using money orders, the teen also purchased guns from three other out-of-state online retailers: Airsoft Atlanta, Inc., of Norcross, Georgia, Jungle Toy, LLC of Chino, California, and Tactical Innovations, LLC of Milford, Ohio. The boy also purchased a gun in person at the Xtreme Action Paintball store in Norwood.

AG Reilly has also notified GSI Commerce, Inc., of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which operates the website for Dick's and Sports Authority, that they are in violation of Massachusetts Law for selling air rifles and stun guns to minors.

AG Reilly has informed the retailers that he intends to sue them to permanently stop the sale of air rifles and BB guns to minors in Massachusetts and to pay penalties.

Incidents involving these "look alike" guns are on the rise both locally and nationally. The Center for Disease Control reports that the guns caused an estimated 20,000 injuries in 2003. Local police are also seeing a serious problem in schools and neighborhoods, where these guns are used to commit crimes and may be confused by law enforcement as a real weapon.

"We have seen a significant rise in crimes committed using air guns during the past six months," Marlborough Police Chief Mark Leonard said. "They are easily accessible to people intent on committing those crimes, and are getting into the hands of minors with increased frequency. 'Replica' air guns bear a very strong resemblance to their 'real' counterparts, and there is no way to distinguish a real firearm from an air gun without close inspection."

Chief Leonard added, "This presents some very real concerns for law enforcement, and is what makes them an attractive criminal tool."

Lowell Police Superintendent Ed Davis estimates that his police officers confiscate two or three BB guns each week. On Monday, a Lowell middle school student used a "look alike" gun to shoot another student in the head. The victim suffered only a minor injury.

"I urge companies that sell these weapons to adhere to strict guidelines on their online sales and in stores," Superintendent Davis said. "Parents also need to pay close attention to the danger posed by these weapons, and ensure that they are not being placed in the hands of their children."

These cases are part of an overall initiative by AG Reilly to target the sale of illegal or age-prohibited products in Massachusetts such as firearms, ammunition, alcohol, cigarettes, and fireworks. AG Reilly's Office has also become a respected resource on the ever-evolving world of the Internet, particularly as it relates to child safety. Since taking office, AG Reilly has devoted unprecedented resources to protecting Internet users and has dedicated staff specifically to education and training efforts.

Anyone with questions about whether certain weapons are restricted by Massachusetts law should check with their local police department.

Assistant Attorneys General David Monahan and Scott Schafer of AG Reilly's Consumer Protection and Antitrust Division are handling this case, with assistance from Investigators Dante Annicelli and Jake Harney of the Investigations Division.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Boy allegedly hit with airsoft pellet gun

Two 11-year-old Pearl City boys were arrested yesterday after another boy said he was shot with a pellet gun.

Police were sent to a Pearl City school about 7:30 a.m. yesterday after an 11-year-old boy said one of his classmates shot him with an airsoft gun.

Police did not name the school or say if the boy was injured.

When officers arrived at the school, the boy said a second boy also fired a shot at him. The two boys were arrested and booked for investigation of third-degree assault and harassment.

Both boys were released to the custody of their parents.

Airsoft guns resemble real weapons, but they fire plastic BBs that sting but do not penetrate the skin.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Teen gets 60 days for shooting

OLYMPIA — A teenager who accidentally shot a friend in the head was sentenced Tuesday to 60 days in jail.

Danial R. Coots, 19, of Olympia pleaded guilty in March to third-degree assault by negligence, sparing himself a potential 21-month prison term had he been convicted during a trial.

His attorney said he couldn’t understand why prosecutors filed
charges in a case that should have been regarded as a tragic accident.

On Feb. 8, 2005, Coots and a friend, David Nelson, then 19, were drinking alcohol about 1:30 a.m. while hanging out with another friend’s sister, then 16, at her home. They went into the girl’s bedroom so she could get cigarettes, and she showed them a 9 mm handgun that her parents had given her for protection. While handling it, Coots accidentally shot Nelson in the head.

Not a pellet gun

Coots had mistaken the weapon for an Airsoft pellet gun because he and Nelson had seen pellets on the floor just before she pulled out the gun.

The bullet passed through Nelson’s skull but he stayed conscious. He survived but lost hearing in one ear, sight in one eye, and has frequent migraines and mood swings that he can’t control, Nelson said. He also is leaking spinal fluid and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, he said Tuesday by telephone.

“I almost wish I would have died so I wouldn’t have to live in this hell,” Nelson said. “I’m pretty messed up in the head. I don’t think anybody is going to be able to fix me.”

Nelson did not attend the hearing in Thurston County Superior Court because he feared it would be too emotional for him. His mother, Donna Roush, appeared and spoke on his behalf.

Nelson, who once lived on his own, now stays with his father and has to visit doctors about four times a week.

Judge Richard Hicks followed the prosecutor’s recommendation on the two-month jail term, part of which can be completed with community service. Coots also has to undergo a substance-abuse evaluation because the case involved alcohol.

Both Coots and Nelson worked for Olympic Arms in Thurston County.

In his only remarks to the judge, Coots explained that he forges metal parts for guns and doesn’t handle weapons, and that’s why he was able to mistake the weapon for a pellet gun.

Coots’ attorney, Jim Dixon, called the case a “tragedy on top of a tragedy.” Initially, the sheriff’s detective told Dixon that there were no criminal violations, he said. The first few times prosecutors reviewed the case, they did not file charges, he added.

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Airsoft Toy Gun Dangers

A popular toy gun catches attention from law enforcement agencies. That's because it looks almost identical to a real gun. Here's more. One of these is the toy gun, the other is a real one. Police officers say they cannot tell the difference. A big concern is if a suspect pulls one out and points it at you, you won't know if the gun is real or not. And that's why officers are so worried about the so called Airsoft gun. The toys are popular with teens mainly because they look like the real thing, from revolvers to military assault rifles. To avoid confusion, the guns makers paint the tip orange but many teens paint it black again.

Lt. Paul Shastany of the Framingham police says, "If there is an orange tip, leave it as an orange tip. If they are going to try to modify this to increase its velocity, don't do that. Leave it alone."

The toy guns fire tiny pellets meant to sting but not injure. Still, officers say kids are getting hurt, even blinded because they aren't protecting themselves.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Boy, 10, booked after spree with air gun at W.V. school

Police in West Valley City took a 10-year-old boy to a juvenile detention facility Friday for allegedly taking an air gun to school and shooting his classmates with it. The shootings allegedly occurred Wednesday and Thursday at Granger Elementary School, 2450 W. 3800 South, in West Valley City. Granite School District police Chief Randy Johnson said the boy was booked into a detention facility on suspicion of aggravated assault. The fourth-grade student brought a plastic-pellet-firing Airsoft pistol to school and shot students on the playground and in the classroom while the teacher was away, the chief said. "We went from a couple of victims to a total of 13 as of yesterday," Johnson said, adding the pellets bruised some children but there were no serious injuries. The boy threatened children so they wouldn't report what happened, but one girl told her parents about the shootings on Thursday night, he said. The parents contacted Granger's principal. Johnson said the boy has been suspended until the school conducts a review.

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