SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane police worked quickly Tuesday afternoon to disarm a teenager carrying around a rifle on Division Street, but not before nearby schools were locked down and patrolmen, outfitted with AR-15s, flooded the area.
A 14-year-old boy was taken into custody at the Burger King on the 1700 block of N Division.
While people have a right to open carry firearms in Washington, dressing in all black and walking down Spokane's busiest street with a rifle in your hands will draw a rapid police response every time.
The first calls to 911 came in right around lunch time; A man walking on Mission Ave with a rifle at his side, pointed to the ground.
"We kept getting phone calls he was continuing westbound," said Spokane Police Officer Ron Van Tassel. "We had officers in the area for some time trying to find him. Every time we'd show up to a location, we'd get an update now saying he was a couple blocks away."
With the suspect still unaccounted for, Spokane Police notified nearby schools.
At Garfield Elementary, the staff cleared an entire playground of kids in less than 60 seconds.
"We contacted District 81 security, they put the school on modified lockdown, we also put North Central High School on a modified lockdown because we knew he was walking this direction," said Van Tassel.
As police flooded the area with patrol cars ,the teen with the gun ducked out of sight inside the Burger King.
"While he was sitting inside the Burger King, somebody did finally call in and said, 'Hey, I think this guy has a firearm.' At that time, numerous officers surrounded the area," said Van Tassel.
Patrolmen didn't want to wait for their SWAT team or for the suspect to start hurting the lunch hour crowd, so some plain clothes officers headed inside the restaurant and simultaneously grabbed the gun and teen.
"When we get it up close and personal and hold it, we can tell it's a BB gun, but when somebody is walking down the street and it's in their hands and they have it, it looks like a firearm right away," said Van Tassel.
The young man was not booked into juvenile detention today because he didn't threaten or point the gun at anyone, but he has certainly violated the gross stupidity statute and is also in trouble for not being in school.
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