Saturday, January 28, 2012

Toy guns nearly led to shootout (Crazy Canadians!)

Filmmaking is a passion for 19-year-old Fredericton resident Brock Jorgensen, who likes to make short movies with his friends through a small production company called BJ Productions.

Filming sessions are a chance to have fun with friends, Jorgensen said, but one evening last February, a routine shoot became a harrowing night he'll never forget.

"We were filming an action thriller," he said. "I opened a window to get some natural light and, by chance, an off-duty police officer drove by and saw my buddy in the window with one of our fake [airsoft]AK-47s."

Jorgensen said his crew was using realistic-looking airsoft guns, which shoot plastic airsoft pellets and are used for games similar to paintball. Many airsoft guns are made to look as genuine as possible, using full-metal construction and slides that move when fired.

Jorgensen's collection includes replicas of well-known airsoft firearms, such as the MP5 submachine-gun, which is prohibited in Canada.

Unbeknownst to the high school students, the whole area had been quietly cordoned off by police.

"They had the whole street blocked off, and a SWAT team surrounding the area," Jorgensen said. "We had no idea."

Just after the crew packed up their cars and drove off, Jorgensen got a terrified text message from the friend who lives in the home where the filming took place.

"Dave texted me saying: "Why is there a SWAT team busting into my house right now!? They have tear gas and assault rifles and they're holding me down right now."

Soon a female officer approached Jorgensen, who was watching the scene, and asked where the guns were. He opened his trunk to reveal the realistic-looking airsoft toys.

"You mean our props?" he said. "She saw they were fake. . . . You should have seen the look on her face."

Jorgensen and his friends laughed at the time, but Fredericton police Const. Rick Mooney said this issue is no joke. He said this incident brought airsoft toy guns to the forefront, although they're not a pressing issue on a day-to-day basis.

"The realistic nature of these imitation airsoft toy guns poses a serious threat to both the public and police safety," Mooney wrote in a news release is-sued following the incident. "These airsoft replicas cannot easily be distinguished from real firearms, especially under stressful situations."

Jorgensen spent the next three days under questioning at the Fredericton police station. Police told him if filming continued half-an-hour longer, the SWAT team may have began shooting through the windows.

After police photographed his airsoft guns, he had to pay a $2 fee to register each toy. He received numbered registration stickers for each, which he later removed.

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