A teen boy with an airsoft gun was shot to death by police in Tempe, Arizona, and now his family wants answers.
The Tempe Police Department were reportedly following up on a suspected car burglar on Tuesday. The alleged burglar was believed to have fled the scene with a handgun, according to the Associated Press.
Police began chasing the suspect, and at some point, they say he turned toward the officers, which one officer perceived as a threat.
The suspect was shot and later died at a hospital. It’s unclear how many shots were fired. Police believe that the replica 1911 model AirSoft gun, which was found on the suspect, was stolen from the car in addition to other items, according to NBC News. An airsoft gun is a replica gun which shoots plastic pellets. Such guns are used for competitive shooting sports, and the pellets typically leave a bruise at worst, if a person is shot with one.
Although the deceased suspect has not formally been identified by police, NBC News has reported that he is 14-year-old Antonio Arce after Arce’s brother as the person fatally shot by police. Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell also identified him as the gunshot victim in a statement published by KNXV-TV in Phoenix.
“A police officer has a Taser gun right? Why not shoot a Taser at him?” Jason Gonzalez, Arce’s brother, told KNXT-TV. "He sees a young boy, my brother wouldn’t shoot. I know he wouldn’t shoot.”
Both he and Sandra Gonzalez, mother of the slain teen made it clear they want answers.
“If they want to tarnish my son, they are wrong,” she told the station, speaking through a Spanish-English interpreter. “Apart from the fact that they killed him, they want to destroy him. No. I won’t allow it, I want justice.”
The Tempe Police Department said it will conduct its investigation in conjunction with the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, according to the Associated Press. That process is customary for police-involved shootings and this shooting marks the fourth officer-involved shooting in the valley area of Phoenix this year.
It is expected that the police department may release more information about the shooting by Friday afternoon.
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