A 12-year-old boy brandishing what turned out to be a replica gun died today after he was shot by a Cleveland police officer responding to a 911 call yesterday afternoon about a person waving a gun in a park. A man who called 911 told dispatchers that the person, "probably a juvenile," was on a swing set and pointing a pistol that was "probably fake" and scaring everyone. "I don't know if it's real or not," the caller said. Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, said the officers were not told the caller thought the gun might be fake. The officer who shot the boy, who the Plain-Dealer notes was in his first year on the force and accompanied by an officer with at least a decade of experience, saw the pistol sitting on a table, and watched the boy grab it and put it in his waistband, Follmer said.
The boy did not make any verbal threats toward the officer or point the gun, but reached into his waistband and grabbed it after being told to raise his hands, Deputy Chief Ed Tomba said. "That's when the officer fired," he said; two shots were fired, and at least one hit the boy in the stomach. Police said the weapon was an "airsoft" type replica gun that resembled a semi-automatic pistol. The orange safety indicator had been removed, said police in a Facebook post. The hospital where the boy died and an attorney for his family would not release his name today. Attorney Timothy Kucharski said the boy went to the park with friends yesterday afternoon, but he did not know the details of what led to the shooting. "I don't want to make a rush to judgment. We're ultimately going to find out what happened," Kucharski said. (Read more toy guns stories.)