Replica guns can create dangers, St. Louis Park police warn after incident

St. Louis Park police posted pictures of replica guns on Facebook after a witness mistakenly reported that a teenager had been holding a pistol. An officer correctly identified the device as a toy, but police warned that use of replica guns could lead to dangerous situations. (Submitted photo) St. Louis Park police posted pictures of replica guns on Facebook after a witness mistakenly reported that a teenager had been holding a pistol. An officer correctly identified the device as a toy, but police warned that use of replica guns could lead to dangerous situations. (Submitted photo)
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St. Louis Park police posted pictures of replica guns on Facebook after a witness mistakenly reported that a teenager had been holding a pistol. An officer correctly identified the device as a toy, but police warned that use of replica guns could lead to dangerous situations. (Submitted photo)

Police responded to a report of a pistol in a park, but the situation actually involved two young people playing with replica firearms.

The incident occurred at about 8 p.m. Aug. 11 on the north side of Peter Hobart Elementary School, according to published reports.

The St. Louis Park Police Department posted a Facebook account of the incident later that night.

“Officers were just called to a park when a witness reported two teens in the park, one of which had a pistol,” the post begins. “When officers arrived they discovered two young people playing with replica firearms.”

A group of people pointed officers toward the teens, according to the post.

“When officers arrived one of the teens was running and turned toward officers with one of the guns in his hand and pointed it in the direction of one of the officers,” the post states. “The teen then grabbed a second weapon from his waistband. Thankfully something about the situation did not seem right to the officer and he was able to take another second to figure out it was a toy.”

The department warned that the situation could have turned out differently.

“Fortunately this potentially dangerous situation ended well,” the post states. “Parents, we do not recommend allowing your children to run around public places with replica firearms. In fast moving situations or low light situations these weapons look very real.”

The post ends, “Be safe!”

Police Chief Mike Harcey told members of the media after the incident, “The actions and training of any police officer can impact an individual for life and a community for a generation.”

Jacqueline Larson, communications and marketing manager for the city, told the Star Tribune, “We’re obviously very pleased with the outcome of this incident, which we attribute to the training and the experience of our officers who responded.”

However, she added, “We really want to help this be an educational thing for parents, to be aware that it’s really not a good idea to have these replica guns … that look very much like real firearms in public areas.”

Harcey and Larson did not comment on the incident further when contacted by the Sun Sailor.