Thursday, May 13, 2010

Man shot by FBI agent wielded an airsoft gun

The 27-year-old man who was shot by an off-duty FBI agent Sunday on Tantalus was wielding an airsoft gun, a source familiar with the investigation said.

"The important thing is not what kind of weapon he was carrying, but the perception of the agent at the time he took the shot," FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said.

Simon would not comment on the details of the case since it is under internal investigation.

During a news conference yesterday, Honolulu police would not reveal what kind of weapon 27-year-old Martin Boegel was brandishing, but detailed why replica weapons should be banned.

Airsoft guns fire plastic pellets but resemble real guns.

Criminal Investigation Division Capt. Rich Robinson displayed one real and four replica firearms, showing how difficult it is to distinguish the fake from real guns. The Honolulu Police Department had introduced a bill at the Legislature this year that would have essentially made the use of a replica gun or airsoft gun during a crime the same offense as using a real firearm.

Police said the agent was flagged down after 1 p.m. and was told by a man and a woman that they saw someone brandishing a gun.

The agent saw a vehicle stop in front of him, and Boegel allegedly got out with a gun, police said.

He ordered Boegel to put the weapon on the ground, and when Boegel advanced, he was shot, police said.

Police officers are confusing replica guns for real guns.

Robinson said Honolulu police have never had a case in which Honolulu police officers fired at an armed suspect where the suspect's weapon was recovered and found to be a replica.

Boegel, who was at the Queen's Medical Center

recuperating after being critically injured, has a history of mental illness, his mother said.

An FBI team is conducting a thorough investigation and will return to Washington, D.C., to present their findings to their review board to determine whether the agent acted in accordance with policy and whether deadly force was warranted.

Boegel was also arrested Thursday for impersonating a police officer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He allegedly wore a jacket with the word "police" on it and had some kind of badge.

After being charged with impersonating a police officer, Boegel was freed on $100 bail.

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