Tragedy has struck the Tempe community in Arizona after a misunderstanding and misidentification resulted in the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old child.
The accident began at around 2:40 P.M. on January 15. The Tempe Police Department were informed about suspicious activity in a parking lot. A concerned citizen believed an unidentified male was burglarizing vehicles in the area.
As police arrived at the parking lot, they immediately noticed a male suspect nearby a vehicle. As they approached, the suspect fled on foot. Police also saw him carrying what appeared to be a firearm.
A foot pursuit ensued. One of the officers reported a “perceived threat,” which was not elaborated on. It’s unclear whether the suspect pointed the ‘weapon’ towards the officers or not. Officers fired their firearms in response to the threat.
The suspect was struck by bullet, and he collapsed to the ground. Officers performed CPR on him until emergency medical staff rushed him away to a nearby hospital. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
Horrifically, police realized the suspect’s “firearm” was actually a fake replica airsoft gun. The suspect was also only 14-years-old.
An investigation was immediately launched regarding the fatal police shooting per protocol. The Tempe Police Department confirmed the officer’s body cameras recorded the whole incident. While the investigation is underway, the officer has been placed on administrative leave.
The replica gun in question was reportedly taken by the 14-year-old boy from one of the vehicles he was burglarizing. Authorities have not officially released the name of the 14-year-old boy, but several media reports have covered the community’s “Justice for Antonio” movement since the shooting.