Guns pulled on kid commando
A TEENAGER armed with a toy rifle was left red-faced when police surrounded him and drew their guns yesterday.
The 13-year-old, dressed from head-to-toe in camouflage clothing, was seen crawling through vegetation near Piggabeen Road and pointing his “weapon” at nearby council workers who were conducting road works about 10.30am.
But those that saw the boy mistook his toy rifle for a real one and quickly alerted police.
Janene Bulley, owner of the Cobaki Convenience Store, said her husband saw the boy stalking through the grass at the back of their store and called police.
“There was a young guy out there with a rubber rifle playing war games,” Ms Bulley said.
“He was pointing a gun at the trucks and the workers and crawling through the grass on his elbows.
“He kept ducking and pointing the gun at the trucks, and he ducked every time he saw someone look.
“My husband called the police, but only after he asked a few people if they thought the gun was real.
“It was a long rifle with a scope and a shoulder sling.”
Ms Bulley said before she knew it five police cars and a police motorcycle were on her doorstep.
She said the boy looked older than he was and that was why she thought the scenario was something more than teenagers playing war games.
One witness said even the police thought the toy rifle was real until they saw it up close.
Tania Richards, who lives next to the store, said she was talking to her sister on the phone when she saw the teenager in the shrubs behind her home.
“I told her 'There's a guy with a gun and he's stalking the workers',” Ms Richards said.
“I said 'I'm scared, he's seen me. He looks like he's got a real gun'.
“She said 'Maybe you should call the police' and then I came outside and there were cops everywhere!”
Ms Richards said she thought the boy had been playing a joke on someone or shooting birds.
“The police frightened me more than anything,” she said.
Officers quickly found the boy and reportedly drew their guns on him before telling him to drop his weapon.
“The poor kid was petrified,” one witness said.
Police searched the teenager's backpack and confiscated the toy gun.
Inspector Darren Steel of Tweed/Byron Police said while no offence had been committed, officers had a responsibility to treat weapons sightings as legitimate.
“We were notified of a person dressed in camo gear armed with a rifle,” Insp Steel said.
“Obviously police did treat the report as serious until we uncovered the true nature of the activity.”
Jim Rosolen, a Tweed Shire Council worker, said they were unaware of the drama until police arrived.