Boy, 13, Wielding BB Gun Shot By Police

Image: WSYX-TV

A fatal police involved shooting of a boy in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday night is drawing comparisons to the 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice incident in Cleveland, a similar death of a Black child at police hands.

According to reports, a police officer responding to a reported armed robbery shot and killed Tyre King, 13, when he pulled a firearm from his waistband that was later determined to be a BB gun, police said Thursday.

The shooting took place Wednesday in an alley east of downtown Columbus after a short foot chase.

Columbus police said officers responded to an armed robbery report involving multiple suspects, the Columbus Dispatch reported. The victim said a group of people approached him and demanded money. One of them was armed, he said. 

Officers soon spotted three males who fit the description of the alleged robbers, two fled when officers approached them. Officers chased them into a nearby alley and tried to take them into custody, but one pulled a weapon, police said. One officer fired, hitting the 13-year-old repeatedly. Police reviewing evidence from the scene later determined the boy’s firearm was actually a BB gun with an attached laser sight.

That suspect, later identified as King, was taken to a children’s hospital, where he died. The officers and the other male involved in the encounter weren’t injured.

Authorities identified the officer who fired as a nine-year veteran of the force named Bryan Mason. He is a nine-year police veteran who had recently transferred to the area where the incident happened, according to Columbus police chief Kim Jacobs. Mason has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, per department protocol, Jacobs said.

At a news conference Thursday, Jacobs displayed a photo of what she called a “replica” of the BB gun that Tyre had.

“Our officers carry a gun that looks practically identical to this weapon,” she said. “As you can see, it looks like a firearm that could kill you.”

Authorities said it wasn’t clear if the shooting was caught on surveillance or cellphone video. Columbus police don’t use body cameras.

Mayor Andrew Ginther appeared to choke up as he called for the community to come together to help ensure children remain safe. He questioned why an eighth-grader would have a replica of a police firearm.

“There is something wrong in this country, and it is bringing its epidemic to our city streets,” Ginther said. “And a 13-year-old is dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns and violence.”

Neighborhood resident Chris Naderer said he was home at the time and heard someone break fencing in his backyard, then saw an officer chasing two young black men and heard several gunshots.

“We heard some people running through our backyard and kind of a loud boom where our gate is busted,” said Naderer, who lives near the site of the shooting told the station. “We assume that they busted the gate down.”

Naderer said he looked out of his window and saw a foot chase past his home into a nearby alley “Heard gun shots 5, 10 seconds afterwards,” he says.

The male who had been with Tyre was interviewed and released pending further investigation, police said. They provided no further information about him.

Police said additional suspects were being sought as the shooting and alleged robbery remained under investigation.

The shooting will be reviewed internally, which is required under Columbus Division of Police protocol.

In 2014, Tamir Rice, 12, was shot and killed by a police officer who was tipped that an individual was in a public park wielding a firearm. Police drove up to Rice, who had been playing with a toy gun and shot him almost immediately upon arriving at the scene. In April the City of Cleveland paid $6 million in restitution to his family.

Image: WSYX-TV

Editor’s Note: Officials releasing the shooting victim’s name had originally spelled it Tyree King. It has since been corrected.