York Regional Police is warning the community after reports involving young people in possession of various forms of replica firearms.
On April 15, at approximately 6:30 p.m., York Regional Police responded to a report of a weapon call that occurred near a park in the area of Hawstone Road and Starling Boulevard in the City of Vaughan. When officers arrived, they learned that a male youth fired a gel pellet gun at a group of youths in the park. Two victims were hit. Fortunately, they were not seriously injured.
The youth firing the pellet gun left the area prior to police arriving.
Orbeez guns have been featured in a dangerous social media trend that encourages shooting strangers with water or gel beads. These beads can cause serious injury when fired from an air-powered gun. In many instances, these air guns are painted to resemble real firearms. Firing gel pellet guns can result in suspects being charged with serious offences, including assault with a weapon.
York Regional Police is warning parents and teens that many replica firearms look identical to real guns. Police responding to these weapons calls are often in the position of having to make quick decisions on whether the weapon is real, a toy or a replica, which could have significant consequences.
In light of this and other incidents involving replica or air guns, York Regional Police reminds the public of the following:
- When police respond to any call involving a weapon, the weapon will be treated as real until an investigation can determine otherwise
- Police-involved shootings have occurred where the firearm is later determined to have been a replica and the officer has been found to be justified in their actions
- There is often no way to tell if the weapon is real prior to investigation
- Replica firearms, air guns, gel guns or toy guns used in the commission of another offense are considered legitimate weapons and those responsible will face significant criminal charges
- If you damage property or injure a person or animal by discharging an air gun, you could be subject to criminal charges in addition to civil liability
- Residents must seriously consider the risks and responsibilities involved in owning any item that could be perceived as a firearm
- For the safety of our communities, people are strongly encouraged to not purchase and to not use these items in our region.
To report a possible emergency related to firearms, call 9-1-1. Call 1-866-876-5423, ext.7008 for non-emergencies.