Wheeling Police are warning residents about the dangers of air soft guns which bear a startling resemblance to real pistols.
Authorities say they have seen a major increase in the use of air soft guns in city limits and just recently, an air soft gun that looked like a real pistol was used in a robbery.
Wheeling Police are warning people that carrying these guns around like weapons is dangerous.
They say the guns look realistic and some have fake silencers and laser sites. Officials say they can incite fear and panic. Officers say they can’t tell from a distance if the guns are real or not.
“Police officers are put in situations where they have to make split second decisions, and the last thing I want is to be called in the middle of the night to be told that a police officer has had to use lethal force and come to find out that the person lethal force was applied to was carrying a BB pistol or air soft pistol,” said Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.
Schwertfeger added that even though most people consider air soft guns “toys,” they are considered weapons and the department will treat them as such.
If you are ever in a situation where you are threatened with a gun–air soft or otherwise–do not hesitate to call the police.