On October 24, 2013 at about 6:00 p.m., Layton Police Dispatch received two 911 calls from tenants at the Hidden Cove apartments. One of the callers reported seeing two adult males approaching an apartment building wearing dark clothing and carrying shotguns. The males were believed to have gone into one of the apartments, and the caller said she heard screaming coming from that apartment.
The first officer arriving on scene took a tactical position outside the building while waiting for other officers to arrive. Shortly after his arrival, the officer saw two males dressed in black jogging down the stairs from an upper floor apartment. The officer could see one of the males was carrying what appeared to be a black shotgun. The officer took cover behind a large tree and waited for the males to get to the bottom of the stairs. The officer again confirmed one of the males was still holding the same black shotgun. The officer pointed his gun at the male with the shotgun and yelled at him to drop the gun. The male immediately complied, and both males put their hands in the air. The officer said the gun sounded like plastic when it hit the ground. The males told the officer it was an "airsoft" toy gun.
Officers inspected the shotgun and confirmed it was a toy replica of a shotgun, which included a realistic shotgun shell that propelled plastic pellets. The officer said the gun did have a small amount of orange color on the tip of the barrel, but the officer said he didn't see the orange on the barrel until the gun was on the ground. The officer determined these males were playing a "joke" on some friends in one of the apartments.
The officer counseled the males and their parents about how others perceived their actions. Both males and their parents were apologetic and understood this incident could have ended with deadly consequences. Recently, a 13-year-old boy in Northern California who was carrying a toy pellet replica gun of an "AK-47" assault rifle was shot and killed by a deputy who stated the boy refused to drop the gun. This was a tragic event for the boy's family and for the deputies involved. The incident here in Layton could have very well ended the same.
There are many toy guns manufactured to look just like real guns, and there are real guns being manufactured and altered to look like toy guns. Officers may not be able to tell if the gun is a toy or the real thing. Officers are not obligated to wait until a subject fires a gun at them or someone else before they make a decision to use deadly force against the subject with the gun.
The Layton Police Department is urging citizens to keep themselves and their children from displaying "replica" toy guns in public. If you are confronted by an officer while holding a gun (replica or real), you MUST follow the officer's instructions. Do not try to reason with the officer by indicating the gun isn’t real. We all need to do our part to ensure the safety and welfare of our community.
Lt. Shawn Horton
Layton Police Department