Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Shooting the kid.

The other day, Brownsville cops shot and killed a 15 year old boy who was brandishing a gun in a school with over 700 kids in it.

The family is upset, saying it was unnecessary use of force*. The boy was just an 8th grader. He was a Good Student**. He was a Good Boy. Active in his church. Not affiliated with gangs. It was only a pellet gun. They shouldn't have shot a minor and certainly not more than once, and DEFINITELY not in the back of the head. Tragic over-reaction, says the family.

Really? Let's listen to the 911 call.  Huh. People were bunkered down. The kid was roaming the halls of a school full of kids. He'd been told repeatedly to put the gun down. He was not in Taser range. He'd said that he was not afraid to die. He was displaying this:
I've posted my concerns about bullet magnets before, and written of an incident almost ten years ago with one. I recall how, at that time, when I presented the boy with his own Airsoft version of a CZ75 from my own holster, the kid didn't even recognize his own plastic gun:
In Brownsville:
The boy threatened people with the gun, which looked very realistic.
The boy talked about not being afraid to die.
The boy was mobile in a school full of potential victims and hostages.
The boy had been challenged, and refused to put the apparent weapon down.
Bullets from the gun of a juvenile kill people just as dead as those from the gun of an adult.
This was sadly a suicide by cop, performed by an unstable kid.

The Brownsville cops did what they had to do.
And that's a damned shame.

*In that ridiculous story, the reporter does his Live! stand-up in Dallas, TX. Even using Google Earth to stretch a line from Dallas to Brownsville, it's 475 miles, and that takes you over the Gulf of Mexico. Google Maps says that the short route to drive it (through Victoria) is actually 529 miles. Why the network thought that it means ANYTHING to have the reporter stand outside in Dallas, TX is beyond me. It would make about as much sense to have a reporter stand outside of a mobile van in New York City to report on a shooting in Hampstead, NC. (which is the same distance by air.)

** Nothing like getting it right the third time. My 8th grader is only 13, and actually started 8th grade when she was only 12. By age 15, I was about 6'4", 200+ lbs, and wore my first beard as a sophomore in high school. Physically, I was indistinguishable from a grown man.

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At Saturday, January 07, 2012 9:10:00 AM, Blogger TBeck said...

The main reason why I'm not comfortable with my kids playing with toy guns. It makes me feel like a hypocrite given my own childhood, but that was a different time. I also want them to have one set of Rules for ALL guns, even the toy ones. Given the amazing versimiltude of airsoft to the real thing I think we may need to add a caveat to Rule One: Assume the gun is real and loaded.

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 9:11:00 AM, Blogger TBeck said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Well Seasoned Fool said...

You are surely correct; suicide by cop.

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous Shrimp said...

1) Brownsville-dangerous(ly close to the border)! Dallas-not so scary (and not so close to the border).

Plus, ABC's reporter is probably just "phoning it in" cause that's a lot easier that driving all the way to Brownsville just to stand in front of a school, when he can do the same thing from some other city in TX. The people in NY don't know the difference and couldn't be bothered to find out. Texas is a big state. Close enough is good enough. (that's sarcasm, in case you missed it)

2) Does anyone seriously expect the parents to say anything else? Of course he was on his way to choir practice after he helped little old ladies cross the street, when some evildoer slapped a gun into his hands and forced him to ignore the police officers' demands that he drop it. Nope, it couldn't have been that he was a troubled kid who may have been considering suicide by cop, for whatever reason.

It is because of parents like this that we need to have castle doctrine laws that protect people from being sued by the perpetrators of crime. They think that it is always someone else's fault that their kid is dead, that the person forced to kill their kid could have/should have done something else. My bet-- a lawsuit against the officers and/or the city, regardless of how groundless it surely is, will be forthcoming.

"He didn't need to be shot three times."

Well, Mr. Gonzalez, if he had dropped the gun when he was told to, he wouldn't have been shot at all. So, you're right, but the blame lands squarely at the feet of your deceased son, not the police officers who had to shoot him.

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 12:56:00 PM, Blogger greg said...

Occasionally, a kid will get kicked out of school around here for having an airsoft pistol...which I think is lame, BUT...

This is the only reason I am even slightly okay airsofts being considered a dangerous weapon on campus...they are dangerous to the kids that cary them

In this case...while I feel a little sorry for the parents, they only one I REALLY feel sorry for is the police officer who is trying to deal with the fact that he killed a 15-year old kid who maybe didn't deserve it, even if he was asking for it.

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 2:39:00 PM, Blogger TBeck said...

The young man was a victim of his poor decisions. The officers who were forced to shoot him were also victims of his poor decisions. I'm curious as to how many warning signs the boy's parents ignored to get to this point.

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 3:49:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Good post Matt, and that is why my grandson has NO toy guns... He's been trained and learned how to shoot with real guns, and he knows what to do and NOT do. I agree this was effectively a suicide by cop, and I think there is a LOT of backstory we don't know...

Bottom line, the cops did the right things, and THEY will go home to their families...

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 7:57:00 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

My heart goes out to the officers that had to shoot the young man.
They were certainly right to do so, but that will haunt their nightmares for some time.
If someone pulled one of those on me somewhere, I wouldn't wait to verify whether or not it was real. Once you ping the deadly threat meter, there's only one reasonable response.

At Saturday, January 07, 2012 11:44:00 PM, Blogger Ted said...

Can someone explain the purpose of an airsoft to me? Are they supposed to be toys? Training aids?

At Sunday, January 08, 2012 3:29:00 PM, Anonymous Steph said...

You put it nicely and better than I could ever think of saying it. I have to wonder if the people commenting on this story on my local news and bashing the police response are reading the same news story I am because I don't see how the boy's actions could be seen as anything less than a serious threat that must be neutralized. And the amount of "Why'd they have to kill him? Why not just shoot him once in the leg?"-comments I've seen just make me want to facepalm. Do they really think the officers involved WANT the death of a 15yr old on their conscience?

On the point of realistic-looking fake guns, I learned the risk of those first-hand when I was a kid.
When I was 15ish I had a lighter shaped like a handgun which looked almost identical to a 380 ACP Guardian pocket pistol and almost the same size that I usually carried around because I thought it was cool.
I was walking home one night and was contacted by the police(reason irrelevant but lets just say I wasn't exactly headed home at 7pm after a day of wholesome caroling with my bible study group) and they asked me to empty my pockets on the hood of the patrol car.

Thankfully, despite my foolishness for carrying that lighter around in the first place, I did have enough sense to announce that I had it before reaching into any of my pockets. The officers removed it from my pocket and they were shocked at how realistic it was.
They gave me a heavy dose of reality while explaining in detail how quickly things could have gone seriously wrong because of that lighter. Pretty sure they confiscated it as well. Even though it took me a couple more years to grow up and quit being a PITA teenager, that lesson stuck with me immediately and to this day I still put as much care and awareness into handling a fake/toy gun as I do a real, loaded firearm.

At Friday, January 13, 2012 10:06:00 AM, Blogger karrde said...

@Ted, I think Airsoft was either originally a training tool, or a new entry into the pellet-gun or BB-gun market.

The first Airsoft I saw was clear-plastic, I could see the internal workings.

However, I guess they also sell real-looking versions like those pictured.

On the other hand, I also saw a pellet-gun (spring-powered) which had the look and heft of a real pistol. The thing was mostly metal, all black, and looked like a Beretta.

That particular pellet-gun used to belong to my older brother, which means he got it sometime in the 90s.

IOW, while Airsoft is the new brand, the possibility of a young adult getting his hands on a gun-look-alike that might become a bullet-magnet is not a new thing.

At Tuesday, January 24, 2012 7:00:00 AM, Blogger Kristopher said...

Any hit is enough to shut down an active shooter, and make him stop his killing spree.

Pretending to be an active shooter will get you killed pretty damned fast, if the officers in that jurisdiction are up to date in their training.

At Tuesday, January 24, 2012 7:04:00 AM, Blogger Kristopher said...

Ted: The airsoft craze got its real start in Japan, where owning any firearm is extremely difficult.

Airsoft fans are a combination of military re-enactors and paintball enthusiast.

They do shoot at each other in organized groups, and try to be as close to real military units as they can.

A realistic looking airsoft in Japan is not very problematic, as civilians with even an OU shotgun are rare.


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