NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — November 22, 2014. 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by an officer in Cleveland, Ohio while carrying a toy gun. He died the next day. Now, New Haven police are calling on parents to due their part to prevent a similar situation from happening in the city.
“I can tell you right now, if either of these was pointed towards me by a bad guy I would do what I can to protect my life,” said Officer David Hartman.
At a press conference on Friday afternoon Hartman held up two similar looking rifles. One, an assault weapon used by police. The other, a paintball gun seized during a recent attack. Both look strikingly similar.
“These are weapons. They’re considered weapons. The incidents we’ve had, we’re gonna go back and do arrest warrants for the people. Any further incidents, they’ll be prosecuted,” said Sergeant Karl Jacobson, head of the Criminal Intel Unit with New Haven Police.
Officers say many of the paintball and BB gun fights happening in the city are part of turf wars between gangs. Last night a 10 year old girl was shot in the head by a paintball gun in Newhallville. This morning another person was hit by a BB gun in Fair Haven. In all about 12 calls came into New Haven Police in the last week alone for similar situations.
“We had another scenario where they were on a major roadway in New Haven firing back and forth at each other in stolen cars. It was almost a typical drive by shooting scenario but they were using paint-balls instead,” said Sgt. Jacobson.
Police say the calls are coming in from alarmed residents who believe the guns being used are real. Officers say the end result could be tragic.
“Police officers arriving at the scene of what is being reported as a gun battle and ending up with teenagers and children shot dead because they were involved in what they thought is some type of game,” said Officer Hartman.
Police are urging parents to know what your kids are up to and to tell them to put their guns down.
“You need to be involved. These are your kids that are getting into these battles and you have a responsibility to keep your children from harm,” said Hartman.