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A report of a man pointing an assault rifle at motorists turned out to be a case of a look-alike weapon, but not before frightening Columbus residents and prompting a substantial police response.
About 1 p.m. Monday, police were notified that a man was pointing an assault rife at vehicles on Lowell Road, on the northwest side of Columbus. Eight officers from the Columbus Police Department and Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department responded to the area, three blocks west of U.S. 31.
Upon arrival, Columbus Police Department Lt. Joe Richardson spotted an 18-year-old man in the backyard of a residence in the 1900 block of St. James Place, holding what appeared to be an assault type rifle, according to a news
The suspect immediately complied with Richardson’s command to drop the weapon. Police soon determined that the man was holding only a low-velocity pellet gun, the release said.
The man said he and a friend were shooting at targets in the backyard of a residence that faces Lowell Road, and neither thought about the wrong perceptions they were creating, the release said.
Although no arrests were made, the incident reflects an ongoing local problem. After almost two dozen reports of look-alike guns being mistaken for high-velocity weapons were made to Columbus Police during the first half of the year, the City Council met May 20 to discuss a possible ordinance to consider limits on facsimiles of firearms.
Four residents expressed opposition to proposed restrictions, while one spoke in favor of them during the meeting. Some council members said they worried that local restrictions might later be determined to be unconstitutional.
On July 1, the council approved rules on children under the age of 18 displaying or discharging weapons such as BB guns, paint guns or pellet guns in public or removing orange identifying marks on such weapons. The fine for first offenses was set at $150. Myers said that since the ordinance was approved, the number of complaints involving look-alike weapons has dropped.
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