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These four pistols were presented in a release by the Athens Police Department to show the similarities between an officer's service weapon (shown on the bottom right) and BB guns used by juveniles in a recent incident.
These four pistols were presented in a release by the Athens Police Department to show the similarities between an officer's service weapon (shown on the bottom right) and BB guns used by juveniles in a recent incident.

Juveniles To Be Charged After BB Gun Incident, Confrontation With Police

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Athens police are raising awareness after a juvenile pulled a BB gun out while talking to a police officer, forcing the officer to take action.

The incident happened at about 5 a.m. Thursday morning on the East side of Athens, while police were investigating reports of vehicle break-ins, according to Captain Ralph Harvey of the Athens Police Department.

One officer responded to a “suspicious” 14-year-old riding his bicycle and carrying a backpack. When the officer talked to the juvenile, he pulled a “replica” of a gun out of his waistband, and the officer, who was standing within arm’s length of the juvenile, grabbed the gun.

“The officer believes, in hindsight, the juvenile was simply going to hand over the replica, however, it certainly put our officer in defense mode,” Police Chief Tom Pyle said in a news release on Monday.

Had the officer not been within such close proximity, the situation could have ended differently, Harvey said.

“At a distance other than arm’s length, it might have been a situation where the officer would choose to ‘disengage,’ which would mean he would have drawn his weapon,” Harvey said.

The investigation into the break-ins led to the discovery of a total of four juvenile males. Charges of theft are expected to be filed in juvenile court, Harvey told WOUB. The other juveniles charged were found to be in possession of BB guns, or “replica pistols” as well, the release stated. No weapons or assault charges are expected, according to Harvey.

Pyle released a photo of the guns, along with a fourth gun he said was the responding officer’s service weapon, posing the challenge of picking out the real gun among the replicas.

“My point in sending this is simple, we want to raise awareness of the danger these replicas pose to those who carry them,” Pyle wrote. “We are asking parents for assistance in controlling these replicas and how their children use them.”

One of the guns had a light attached to it, according to the picture.

“That’s the same light that we issue to our officers,” Harvey said. “All of those (BB Guns) could be mistaken for live firearms.”

Another difference that would be unnoticeable in an incident like the one that occurred on Thursday was a small “port” on the bottom of the gun, Harvey said. The port would not be present on a real gun, because it is part of a canister used to fire BBs or pellets.

While children are not prohibited by law from carrying the guns, Pyle and Harvey said more limits should be placed on the firearms.

“If you’re locking up your firearms, you might lock these up as well,” Harvey said.

Officers are trained to spot weapons, even when they are being concealed under clothes, and are trained to make on-the-spot decisions about what to do when a weapon, real or fake, is shown.

“I’m confident our officers know how to react in those situations,” Harvey said. “But all it takes is that moment when we have to decide what to do.”

Names of juveniles are not released in criminal cases.