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13-year-old with pellet gun wounded by LAPD officer

A Los Angeles police officer shot and wounded a 13-year-old boy who was carrying what turned out to be a pellet gun in the Glassell Park area.

Police said late Friday that the incident occurred about 7:50 p.m. Thursday when two LAPD officers on  routine patrol in the 3000 block of North Verdugo Road saw three pedestrians in the middle of the street and stopped to investigate. The three people ran, with one ending up behind a van.

The officers got out of their patrol car, and one of them, Officer Victor Abarca, shined a flashlight on the person behind the van and ordered him to surrender. Based on the person’s 5-foot-7, 200-pound frame, Abarca assumed that he was a young adult male.

Police said the subject refused to comply and instead produced what was later found to be a fake Beretta 92F handgun. Abarca fired his gun, striking the subject.

Los Angeles Fire Department personnel responded and took the subject to a hospital, where he underwent surgery and was listed in critical but stable condition.

After the shooting, Abarca and rescue personnel were stunned to learn that the wounded male was, in fact, just 13. The other two subjects, 13 and 14, were detained without incident after dropping their fake handguns. Three faux weapons were recovered.

Detectives from the LAPD’s force investigation division responded to the scene. Police said they had determined that the subjects had been playing in the dark street, shooting pellets at one another with the fake handguns. They said they anticipated that no criminal charges would be filed against any of the three juveniles.

"This is a tragedy for all involved, but in particular for the young man injured in this police shooting and for the officer who believed that he was protecting himself and his partner from a real threat," said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.

"The pellet gun the juvenile was using is the exact dimensions of a Beretta 92F and is indistinguishable from a real handgun on a dark night," Beck said. "We have seen far too much heartbreak involving these types of realistic-looking guns that are labeled as toys."

-- Martha Groves

Comments () | Archives (29)

All guns are real.
All guns are loaded.
Now act appropriately.

Even if he didn't get shot by the cops, he could have very well got into an altercation with a local gang. Not smart. Don't take your guns to town kids...

I remember the 80s when a rule was passed for something similar - at that time, the outcome was to equip these fake guns or non-lethal guns with a bright red barrel tip. Has training veered so that cops that are not taught to look for that? What is different about today's patrols than those of twenty years ago?
This area or stretch of Glassel Park, while not the toilet that Drew Street is, is still an unsafe and highly undesirable area both to unfortunate residents, postal workers and I'm sure, the LAPD that patrols the slum. I do hope the kid recovers, a lesson is learned and a lawsuit produces enough for everyone to walk away without a grudge.
Design a safe gun, design a safe toy, and for pete's sake, please design a training manual that withstands time: kids will play with whatever toys they're given by their parents at Christmas time or any other time these toys are distributed.

As a owner of several BB guns I should point out several issues.

1) These BB guns are classified as REPLICA FIREARMS under california law, it's ILLEGAL to carry them OPENLY much less play with them in public. When you buy them you are suppose to be briefed on this fact by every reputable Airsoft Retailer. I "play with mine" at a authroized Airsoft Field, and transport them in public AS IF THEY WERE REAL FIREARMS. In closed containerd, unloaded. When a replica is seen in public, it is supposed to be treated as if it were a REAL FIREARM. That's what the police are trained to treat any replica as. If you commit a crime with a replica, it will be treated as if you committed a crime with a REAL firearm as well.

2) The police are not trained to "Only shoot when shot at". they are trained to pull their weapons when threatened, and to shoot when they percieve the threat of deadly harm is imminent. Yes that's VERY open to individual interpretation. If they only shot when shot AT there would be MANY MORE DEAD COPS.

3) The "make all guns red" or "why can't they see the tip" is NOT a straightforward answer. When the orange tip rule went into effect, CRIMINALS PAINTED THEIR REAL WEAPONS ORANGE. Policemen and women DIED. Making the guns weird colors is NOT a solution.

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