Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Robbery suspect got rehab instead of jail

A Spokane man accused of robbing a convenience store at gunpoint last weekend was given drug treatment instead of prison for a felony theft case last year.

Anthony D. Fuerte, 19, can't leave jail if he does post the $5,000 bond imposed Monday for the now first-degree robbery charge - he's serving a 30-day jail sentence for violating a drug offender sentence imposed in September for a felony theft and burglary case involving nearly $200,000 in stolen goods.

Fuerte was already considered to be in violation of his sentence requirements in that case when a clerk at Zip Trip, 2020 W. Francis, identified him as the gunman who robbed him about 9:43 p.m. on Friday.

Police found Fuerte hiding in a carport just west of the store. They say he had an Airsoft gun with him, along with money stolen in the robbery. One officer said Zip Trip surveillance video “without a doubt” shows Fuerte rob the store at gunpoint.

Fuerte was arrested in December 2010 on suspicion of theft and harassment after a deputy followed his shoe prints through snowy woods.

Toy Handgun Get 10 Year-Old In Big Trouble

An alleged “prank” by a 10 year-old boy, ended with police arresting him for brandishing a replica airsoft handgun in a threatening manner.

The incident occurred around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, January 29, when a woman called police to report that a young boy had just rung the doorbell at her home in the 1100 block of N. Evergreen St. She told police the boy had what appeared to be a black handgun in his hand. When the woman opened the door, the boy said something that sounded like “you suck” before running to his bicycle and riding to another house on the street.

When officers arrived, they were directed to the boy’s home, where they contacted the boy and his mother. The boy told the offices that two weeks ago the victim’s grandson has gotten into a fight with one of his friends at their elementary school. He was given a broken Airsoft-type pistol at a friend’s house, and decided to play a prank on the victim’s grandson. When the grandmother, instead of her grandson, opened the door, the boy said he ran away.

The 10 year-old boy, whose name was not released because he is a juvenile, was arrested for brandishing an airsoft replica of a handgun in a threatening manner. He was released to his mother. The case is being reviewed by the Juvenile Division of the District Attorney’s office, according to a police department spokesman.

Boy, 10, arrested for pulling toy gun

BURBANK, Calif., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Police in California said a 10-year-old boy was arrested after allegedly pulling a toy airsoft gun on a woman who believed it to be a real firearm.

Burbank police said the boy, whose name was not released, knocked on the front door of a 67-year-old woman whose grandson beat up one of the boy's friends at school, the Burbank Leader reported Tuesday.

Lt. John Dilibert said the boy yelled "you suck" at the woman and pointed the toy airsoft gun at her before fleeing.

Dilibert said the toy gun appeared to be an Airsoft gun, a realistic-looking toy that shoots airsoft pellets, CBS News reported.

"They're replicas," Dilibert said. "They look just like the real thing. It shoots soft [airsoft] pellets, like a BB gun."

The boy was arrested on suspicion of brandishing a weapon and released to his parents. He was given a citation and will have to appear in court, Dilibert said.

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.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Toy guns can cause real problem

Two people charged last week after allegedly pointing a toy airsoft gun at a woman driving a vehicle on Md. 97 are lucky that they only face a few criminal charges and that the incident didn’t end more badly than it did.

The woman called police saying a passenger in another vehicle pointed a large [airsoft] rifle out the window at her. When police responded and stopped the car, they found that the gun was an Airsoft gun, which shoots non-metallic airsoft BB pellets.

Most toy airsoft guns manufactured today are identifiable because they have orange tips on the airsoft gun barrels or some other feature that allows people to quickly distinguish them as airsoft toys. In this case, police say the colored tip had been painted black.

What those involved in this incident and others who may have done similar things in the past probably didn’t think of, however, is that police responding to a call involving someone pointing a gun at someone else aren’t going to know that the gun is an airsoft toy.

Instances of people pointing or even firing weapons at people in other vehicles are not common, but they do happen. Instances of police responding to homes where people are brandishing guns are more common. In every case, however, police in most cases have only seconds to assess the situation and take appropriate action to protect themselves and any innocent victims who may be involved.

Getting a call about someone pointing what looked like an assault rifle at someone in another vehicle likely had police on high alert and ready for any contingency. Those accused are lucky that the police were able to stop them and quickly determine the gun was an airsoft toy.

Lt. Jim DeWees, commander of the Westminster barrack of the Maryland State Police, told the Times that toy airsoft guns can look real, especially from a distance, and that people who are using them need to exercise care.

“People just need to be more responsible when it comes to this,” DeWees said.

"Every boy will walk tall, when he wears a holster and pistol . . ."

It’s been just over 23 years since section four of the Federal Energy Management Improvement Act of 1988 went into effect, forcing manufacturers of toy airsoft guns to implement both a solid “blaze orange” muzzle to the end of the airsoft gun’s barrel as well as a “marking permanently affixed to the exterior surface of the airsoft gun barrel.” While New York City had already instituted a ban in 1955 on the sale, use, and possession of toy and imitation airsoft guns that resembled firearms, the iron fist of federal law forced the rest of the country to follow suit in the late 80s, and toys like the NES Zapper morphed from its original dark-gray model to a bright-orange monstrosity—of course, the Zapper still killed video-game ducks, but it was in a strange, different kind of way.

However, once the federal law was passed, it became easy to paint over the orange markings. Airsoft and paintball guns, for instance, are required to have orange barrels or markinghttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifs when sold, but they're often painted by their owners to hide any bright markings that can be spotted during play. From a slight distance, an airsoft gun probably won't look much different than a deadly, real-bullet-shooting firearm.

Unsurprisingly, imitation and airsoft toy guns are still being used in robberies and are still causing controversy in schools. Just recently an eighth grader in Texas believed to be holding a real gun was shot and killed by police. And in 2010, a small media frenzy swarmed upon a fourth grader who was reprimanded for bringing a two-inch-long Lego gun to school.

Considering there are still ongoing issues with toy airsoft guns some two decades later, it's wild to revisit classic, pre-1988 toy-gun commercials. Companies like Mattel wanted guns to look as realistic as possible—in fact they reveled in it. Eight-year-olds toting fake airsoft firearms were advertised as badasses, and a commercial's micro-plot would often revolve around fending off bad guys with cap-loaded pistols. Detective kits were being hawked, complete with tommy guns (automatic bolt action!), snub-nosed revolvers, and snap-draw shoulder holsters.

Into the 80s, the objective stayed the same but just grew louder and more intense. Water guns mimicking AK-47s were being pushed based on their realistic firing sounds, and laser tag stepped into the realm of social relevance, inexplicably climbing in popularity.

Below are a handful of videos of classic toy-gun commercials I plucked from the Internet:

The kid's smile during the tommy-gun description is almost maniacal. His outfit is pretty snazzy, though, I guess.

"It's seven guns in one, let's count them."

The early shot of the kid loading bullets in the gun is straight chilling and a little too real.

"Surprise, out comes your secret derringer . . . Multi-Pistol 09! Multi-Pistol 09! Multi-Pistol 09!"

The 80s were so big and loud. Get a look at the rocket water launcher about 20 seconds in. That thing is just unnecessary.

"Be the ultimate laser warrior."

Teenager with gun in KATU video arrested

PORTLAND, Ore. - A 17-year-old boy was arrested Friday after he was recorded by a KATU News crew last week carrying a handgun and being chased near the Lloyd Center MAX stop.

The gun, police said, turned out to be an Airsoft pistol, but the orange tip that distinguished it from a real handgun had been removed from the airsoft gun.

The 17-year-old was charged with second-degree disorderly conduct and was excluded from riding TriMet buses or MAX trains, police said.

Last Friday, a KATU News crew happened to arrive at the MAX stop to work on a story about crime on MAX trains when it recorded on video the teenager running with the airsoft gun from a volunteer safety patrol group known as the Guardian Angels.

The group had apparently confronted the teenager at or near the MAX stop when he took off running. Two safety patrol members pursued him but the teenager outran them.

Police used KATU’s video to assist in identifying the suspect. They contacted the teenager who agreed to turn himself in.