Teen charged in toy gun incident - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Teen charged in toy gun incident

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Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — A 17-year-old male was arrested Tuesday afternoon on felony charges after shooting an Airsoft gun at a city worker.

Sandpoint Police officers responded to the Spruce Street around 3 p.m. to investigate the possibility of gunshots, according to Police Chief Corey Coon. The unnamed high school student, riding by in the passenger seat of his friend’s pickup truck, used an Airsoft gun to fire plastic pellets at a Sandpoint Public Works employee, Coon said.

Responding officers charged the Airsoft shooter with aggravated assault and took him to the juvenile detention facility, Coon said. The driver of the vehicle was not arrested but was instead referred to his probation officer assigned from a previous offense.

“The thing that kids often don’t understand is how quickly a situation like this can turn tragic,” Police Chief Corey Coon said.

 That proved true for the city employee who found himself targeted by Airsoft fire. He had no association with the teenagers, and Coon said he experienced a moment of confusion and panic when he suddenly found himself being fired upon with what appeared to be a normal gun.

For their part, the teenagers weren’t targeting the city employee randomly, nor did they intend any malice toward him. As they drove by and spotted him, they mistook him for a sports coach and decided to play a prank on him. The Airsoft-style gun they used typically poses little safety risk, but more powerful models can leave welts at close range or cause eye damage in the case of a particularly unfortunate shot.

Airsoft guns are required by federal law to be shipped and sold with an orange tip, but no such laws govern the actually ownership of the faux weapons. That means that many Airsoft guns could hypothetically be mistaken for a real weapon, and that could turn a prank into a more serious situation.

“Our officers receive training to distinguish between (Airsoft guns) and real guns, but oftentimes, the average citizen can’t, and they might choose to respond with deadly force,” Coon said.

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  • Farmerette posted at 7:13 pm on Sat, Mar 2, 2013.

    Farmerette Posts: 53

    Pretty amazing, these teenage boys have the privilege and responsibility to get behind the wheel, but not enough brains to know they could have injured someone. Or worse have someone shoot back. No, air soft guns are not the equivalent of a rubber band, it depends on the fps and how close you are. How would your average person know it's not a toy, they wouldn't. I guess we'll have one more bright and shining local citizen on probation. Sandpoint and Cocolalla are already on the radar for enough crime already...

  • wilson posted at 2:21 pm on Sat, Mar 2, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1133

    Sorry, I forgot -- Boys will be Boys -- (I wonder what one of them was on probation for?) Same as a rubber band gun? Let's see their names in print and check with their neighbors to see if they are honor students or not-- I want to know if they live near me!

    Like I said, Biker - let's not become too uncivilized -

  • BikerBrian posted at 12:12 pm on Sat, Mar 2, 2013.

    BikerBrian Posts: 62

    Wilson - I'm not sure what era you are talking about, but there has always been crazy. Vandalism has to be almost as old as time. "It seems vandalism as we knew it was pretty tame to what is going on in society today." Does it seem that way because we have more readily available information since we are living in a technology age? But that's a digression. We were talking about some teenage boys shooting a TOY gun at a person they thought they knew. I'm not defending their actions, just stating that people should not rush to judge the actions of children. Were there rubber band guns when you were a kid? That's the rough equivalent of airsoft guns. We live in a time, and place, where guns are not hard to get a hold of, even illegal ones. I’m sure if these two boys wanted to cause harm, this discussion would be very different.

  • wilson posted at 5:18 pm on Fri, Mar 1, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1133

    Biker - When I was a kid it was practically unheard of for people to go into public places with guns blazing, carving up your friend in the shower, writing on public buildings with paint, etc. It seems vandalism as we knew it was pretty tame to what is going on in society today. We should not lower our expectations of civility.

  • BikerBrian posted at 10:33 am on Fri, Mar 1, 2013.

    BikerBrian Posts: 62

    I believe there is a quote in the bible that goes something like "Those of you without sin, cast the first stone” I probably got that wrong, but I think I got the message right. Is there any one of you critics that didn't do something stupid, or even incredibly so, while you were a teenager? I seriously doubt it, and if you think you didn't, it was probably so incredibly stupid you haven't realized it yet.

  • reddawn posted at 11:00 pm on Thu, Feb 28, 2013.

    reddawn Posts: 1875

    Lets hire educated people at our schools to deal with all these mentally challenged kids, then lets hire a police officer for every door and lets then raise our taxes alot to take care of these kids, or better yet build another jail because we would rather put them there than give them a better education and professionals to help these kids, and teach them in schools about right and wrong.Help them and find all the bullies because life at home is so unhappy they take it out on others, and this comment site is a real good example to our children, say that about three weeks ago when they spoke about having friends of diffrent faiths . They got attacked by the so called adults on this comment site. All of the tea party Republicans anyway, I am sure they got an education by you so called adults. They are probley the parents of the bullies in school.We just happen to have alot of stupid adults around here who love showing there guns off in the back window or wearing the hunting gear when they are not hunting. And tell lies about our guns being taken away. What do you think is going to happen.

  • Farmerette posted at 3:58 pm on Thu, Feb 28, 2013.

    Farmerette Posts: 53

    With all the hype in the media about guns and shootings you would think they had at least a minimal amount of common sense not to do such a stupid thing. This is not a prank ,this is criminal. Mommy and Daddy, if there are any, need a wake up call...these are not their little angels. Delinquents is more like it. [sad]

  • wilson posted at 3:40 pm on Thu, Feb 28, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1133

    Corey - I am not sure I would call their actions a stupid mistake - one already on parole and the other intentionally shooting at someone- yeah, I would say mentally challenged-- a stupid mistake would be shooting at a garbage can and then accidentally hitting a person - can't make excuses for misfits forever-

  • Sandpointman posted at 11:56 am on Thu, Feb 28, 2013.

    Sandpointman Posts: 598

    Just imagine what could have happened if this idiot would have fired at someone who was armed. He could have been shot and killed.

    What a dolt.

  • KJB posted at 8:34 am on Thu, Feb 28, 2013.

    KJB Posts: 620

    You can buy an airsoft gun at Big 5 for less than $50. I am sure a 17-year-old can find a way to purchase this without his parents's help or knowledge.

  • Corey Greve posted at 8:06 pm on Wed, Feb 27, 2013.

    Corey Greve Posts: 970

    Wilson, where does it say that they were "mentally challenged"? Not trying to excuse their actions, but do you suppose that they simply made a stupid mistake? Were you a saint as a teenager? I know I wasn't.

  • wilson posted at 4:50 pm on Wed, Feb 27, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1133

    No laughing matter - this is exactly how disasters begin. Mentally challenged "almost adults" need to be kept under very close supervision all their lives. Who gave him the money to buy the gun? Why was he out running around with another known delinquent? Has he no parents? The courts need to find this stuff out and make life very difficult for those parents. In some countries these two would be sent to "the farm" never to be able to mix into society again, problem solved.

  • NewDawn posted at 11:48 am on Wed, Feb 27, 2013.

    NewDawn Posts: 936

    Maybe he was practicing in case the levy didn't make it. What do you think? [wink]

  • Laurie Wadkins posted at 11:19 am on Wed, Feb 27, 2013.

    Laurie Wadkins Posts: 638

    Oh now isn't this cute!
    ..... The little darlings, almost adults, playing shoot em' up! My brother used to play "war" with plastic assault rifles when he was five or six... he outgrew it!