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Cops: Teen pointed toy gun at officers

May 11, 2009 8:00:34 AM PDT
A teenager remains in the hospital Monday after a deputy mistook his toy gun for the real thing. Witnesses said the boy was just playing "cops and robbers."Police had received calls about a boy on a bike with a gun just before 8 p.m. Sunday. Deputies en route to another incident also saw the teen and pulled over to investigate on 20th Street East near Palmdale Boulevard.

When they told the teen to stop, he first tried to run from deputies, but then stopped and turned toward them.

According to responding deputies, the teen pointed the fake gun at them, causing one deputy to fire one round at the teen, hitting him in the upper body

"He had a plastic squirt gun, and they were squirting each other with the squirt gun, and the cop saw the squirt gun and thought it was a real gun, so he shot the kid," said witness Christopher Barker.

The 15-year-old, whose name has not been released, is in stable condition.

Deputies said the fake gun the teen was carrying looked like a blue-steel automatic handgun to them.

"Unfortunately, many manufacturers seem to be manufacturing their firearms to very closely resemble real firearms," said Lt. Patrick Nelson from the L.A. County Sheriff's homicide bureau.

"It'd be impossible to tell whether or not it's a real firearm. It's certainly not something you'd want to bet your life on," he said.

People in the neighborhood said the boy is known to play with that toy gun often, adding that they could not fault the deputy for mistaking the toy for a real gun.

"They're good kids, you know, and it's really sad what happened," said one neighbor.

Another neighbor said the teen is a special need student who has never caused trouble before, and said he warned the teen Sunday afternoon that his gun look a little too real.

"I warned him about the gun, it's like you don't have a red tip, you should not be waving that around," he said.

An investigation is still underway.

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