Here’s a terrifying situation that uncomfortably mirrors the Tamir Rice case — Oberlin police seized five real-looking BB handguns from three children on Dec. 22.
The incident came just days before a non-indictment decision by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. Police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback were cleared in the 12-year-old’s death Nov. 22, 2014, when he was spotted with a “pistol” at a Cleveland park.
The Oberlin children were spotted just before 4 p.m. near Pleasant Street Park, each with guns that a witness said looked authentic.
“All of the BB guns were solid black and appeared very similar to real firearms,” said a police report.
One of the boys was spotted taking a gun from his waistband, showing it to others.
Of the suspects involved, two were black and one was white, a fact we report only because of the incident’s similarities to the racially-charged Rice case. There is no information on their respective ages.
Three police officers — Ptl. Ray Feuerstein, Ptl. Bashshar Wiley, and Sgt. Patrick Durica — caught up to the boys across the street from Eastwood Elementary School and approached with weapons drawn.
They shouted “Hands up!” and “Show me your hands,” a report said. A further statement by police clarified that the officers at the time didn’t know whether the guns shot BBs or bullets.
The kids were told to lie face-down on the ground. A search revealed a Swiss Army knife and a smoking pipe with marijuana residue in addition to the BB guns.
The boys told officers they used the guns for hunting and to “shoot birds and things in the woods.” They also said they did not know having BB guns was “bad” because they are not “real” guns, police wrote in the report.
“These three outstanding members of the Oberlin police department were able to safely stop, search, and arrest the three suspects without using force,” said a police post on social media. “They used their training, experience, and verbal commands to safely stop and arrest the suspects. This was obviously a dangerous situation that could have turned into a tragic incident. They deserve this recognition for a job well done.”
Inducing panic, discharging firearms, and possession of marijuana paraphernalia are the charges recommended to the Lorain County Juvenile Court.
Courtesy photo Oberlin police released this image to Facebook on Wednesday of very real-looking BB guns taken in an incident with Oberlin youths. The posting came just two days after a non-indictment came in the Cleveland death of Tamir Rice.