Police warning parents after Essexville teen spray painted airso - WNEM TV 5

Police warning parents after Essexville teen spray painted airsoft gun

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A real long rifle carried by police and the teen’s airsoft rifle. Can you tell the difference? (Source: Essexville Police Department) A real long rifle carried by police and the teen’s airsoft rifle. Can you tell the difference? (Source: Essexville Police Department)
ESSEXVILLE, MI (WNEM) -

Authorities say a misunderstanding could have ended in tragedy, but thanks to cooler heads prevailing no one got hurt.

The Essexville Public Safety Department was called to the 1600 block of Woodside Avenue Wednesday, Dec. 20 just after 6 p.m. for a subject dressed in tactical attire carrying an assault rifle.

Investigators said while out searching the area, the subject was found holding the weapon and was ordered at gunpoint, by an officer, to drop the weapon. The subject complied and was taken into custody.

Police said the subject was a local 14-year-old boy dressed in tactical gear and the gun was an airsoft rifle that he spray painted to look realistic.

“We seen a lot of police officers on foot surrounding a house and so we closed all of our blinds because we really didn’t know what was going on. It was very scary,” said Deb Militello.

That’s how Militello described what could have been a tragic incident.

“We did hear them say 'stop police.' And we could see the boy put his hands up,” Militello said.

Police said the boy was just pretending to be in the military, but in reality someone thought this was a real threat.

As for Militello, she is glad no one was hurt.

“This incident could of had a very tragic ending had the young man not dropped the rifle at the request of the officer. Keep in mind, it was dark and this young man was dressed in full camouflage tactical clothing to include helmet and a mock tactical bullet proof vest,” the police department wrote on Facebook.

“We need to make sure to instruct our children not to tamper, enhance, or disguise these types of toys because they want them to look realistic,” police said. 

Gun experts said whatever you do, don't paint over the orange tip.

"If you got a gun and it already has the orange ring on, leave the orange ring on it so it helps the police," said Glenn Duncan, owner of Duncan's Outdoor Shop in Bay City. 

Duncan said complying with police can stop a bad situation with a gun from getting worse.

"If the police ask you to do something, please do it," Duncan said. "That's their job."

Gun owners like David Winters said he teaches his kids to respect both real and fake weapons.

Federal Law simply says manufacturers must sell the guns with the orange tip, but it says nothing about owners removing the tip. 

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