MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Louis Park Police are sending a warning to kids with fake guns that look real.
Police say tragedy was avoided when officers were called to Dakota Park Friday evening on reports of two teenagers running around with guns.
It was a situation where St. Louis Park police had no idea what they were walking into.
Officers say good training and good instinct turned a scary situation into a teaching moment for parents and their children alike.
Kathryn Kottke and her family were out for an evening walk when they noticed two teens playing near a ballfield inside the park.
“These little ones were back by the fence by the woods behind the dugouts,” Kottke said. “There were just two boys and I saw a reflection of something in his hand and I thought it was a gun. So we just sort of watched him and then he turned a little bit again towards us and it was clearly a gun.”
Kottke said she saw a neighbor walking nearby and used his cellphone to call 911.
“I didn’t know if these two boys were upset with each other or if they were playing a game, but on the 911 call I did tell the person I’m not sure if it’s an airsoft or a real gun, but it looks real,” she said.
Police arrived and were told that the teens were behind Peter Hobart Elementary School.
“When the officers got out of the car, the one child heard either the car or the officer and he turned around with one of the pistols in his hand and ended up pointing it in the direction of our officer, who drew his weapon believing he was in danger of somebody with a pistol,” said Sgt. Paul Barnes. “The child raised his hand up with the gun in his hand and then reached into his waistband and grabbed another one, which wasn’t ideal either.”
Barnes says the teens immediately cooperated with police and threw their fake guns to the ground. They were detained briefly at the scene.
Police want parents to know it is not a good idea to allow children to play with these life-like toys.
“Really, really pleased that the officers took that extra split second to just wait a moment and make the right decision, because it doesn’t always happen that way and it’s important to recognize when it does,” said Mayor Jake Spano.
The 13- and 14-year-old boys were allowed to go home with their parents.
A few months ago, a toy gun in a park led to a shooting in Crystal. In that case, 18 year-old Khaleel Thompson was having a mental health crisis and did not respond to officer’s commands to put down his weapon — which ended up being a pellet gun.
Thompson is out of the hospital and that case is still under investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.