A Baltimore police officer shot and wounded a 13-year-old boy who was carrying a replica handgun.
The teen, who police say is expected to recover, was shot at the end of a foot chase Wednesday after officers spotted him walking down the street. They pursued the boy thinking he had a real gun, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis told reporters.
It turned out to be a pellet gun, Davis said.
But he said, “It’s a dead-on ringer for a Beretta 92FS semiautomatic pistol.”
The officers who chased the teenager — detectives assigned to the department’s intelligence unit — identified themselves before shooting him, Davis said.
He said he did not know why the teenager had the pellet gun or why he ran. He said officers had interviewed the teen’s mother and that she knew he had left the house with it.
He defended the officers’ actions, saying officers couldn’t have known the gun was a replica, but even then, replica guns have been used in crimes before. Officers, he said, had no idea what the teen’s intentions were.
“We can’t allow someone to walk down the street in broad daylight anywhere in Baltimore with what looks like to be a semiautomatic pistol in his hand,” Davis told reporters.
The shooting came on the first anniversary of violent protests over the death of Freddie Gray while in Baltimore police custody.
It also occurred two days after the city of Cleveland agreed to pay $6 million to the family of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who died in 2014 after police shot him while he was in possession of a replica handgun.
While police spokesman Detective Donny Moses said Baltimore was quiet overnight and into Thursday, reaction was mixed on social media.
“We have more questions than answers today,” Baltimore civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson said on Twitter. “Why did the Baltimore officers approach the 13 year old child? Why did they shoot him?”
One Twitter user told Baltimore police, “Awesome job! I hope you arrest his mother for negligence or contributing to delinquency. She’s unfit.”
But on Facebook, Darren Willis said in a reply to the police update on the incident that “cop kissing jerks” praising the department had missed the point.
“How was he to even know they were cops? He was 13 and ran away from grown-assed men who were strangers and armed. Details matter. I know, blame the target and the mom. It’s easy for racists and idiots.”