Police: Toy guns could lead to unnecessary danger for kids

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 22, 2019

NATCHEZ — Video footage showing young men pointing guns at people in a courtyard area of Holiday Apartments on Thursday afternoon prompted Natchez police officers to go to the scene.

Project NOLA cameras in Holiday Apartments were being monitored by personnel in New Orleans who saw the guns and alerted police to the activity.

When police officers arrived, they talked to some of the juveniles and learned the guns were not real guns but rather were realistic-looking toy guns.

Email newsletter signup

“Had they produced those on someone with real guns — law enforcement or citizens — they could have thought they were real guns,” said Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong, adding the officers confiscated the toy guns from two 17-year-old males.

No charges were filed or are anticipated, Armstrong said.

“We took the guns off the street for their safety and the safety of the community,” Armstrong said. “They could very easily be mistaken for a real gun.”

Armstrong said the police department had received complaints from residents about young men pointing guns at people in recent weeks and had recently reviewed Project NOLA video that had captured the young men roaming through the complex, pointing the guns at people.

“On Monday at Holiday Apartments, we saw guys pointing and aiming what appeared to be guns,” Armstrong said of Project NOLA video footage. “As we watched the video, we could tell they were not (actually) shooting.”

The cameras do not transmit sound so Armstrong said officers determined no actual shots were fired by the reactions of people nearby.

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said he had heard the complaints about people pointing guns at other people in Holiday Apartments as well, so he and his staff monitored Project NOLA video, found the Monday footage and shared that with the Natchez Police Department earlier this week.

“If law enforcement would have rolled up on this, we all hope and pray the training would have kicked in,” Patten said. “They all had the kind of guns that look real and were acting like they were trying to shoot each other.”

Patten referenced the 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a Cleveland Ohio Police officer who thought Rice had a real gun that turned out to be a realistic-looking toy gun.

“People should not be buying their kids these fake, real-looking guns, especially if you live in a high-crime area,” Patten said. “The Natchez Police Department handled that call extremely well today. Right now is not the time to be running around acting like you’re trying to shoot somebody with all of the shootings and murders we’ve had in the city.”

Patten suggested getting children more appropriate toys.

“If they want to play, get a Nintendo,” Patten said. “Do not let your kids run around outside in a high-crime area play-shooting with realistic looking guns.”