FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A man brandishing a replica gun made to look like a real pistol was shot to death by a Fort Wayne officer Monday afternoon after he pointed the gun at officers in the duplex where he lived, police said.
The shooting occurred about 12:40 p.m. at 2020 S. Harrison St.
Police were called to the duplex after the man confronted two men who were doing work on the building, according to Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York. The man was carrying what appeared to be a handgun, which caused the workmen to leave and call police.
The pistol was actually a plastic airsoft-type gun designed to look like a Walther P99 - a semi-automatic handgun made by a German company - with the Walther name etched on its barrel and handle. These guns typically shoot plastic pellets and are considered non- lethal.
Five officers, including a supervisor, responded to the duplex after the workmen called police. Shortly after that, the workmen returned to the scene.
The officers went to the second-floor apartment and knocked. The man answered holding the gun, York said. Police told him to drop the weapon, but he didn't. Then, York said, the man raised the gun and pointed it at the officers.
York said the look-alike guns are difficult to tell from real guns at a distance, especially in such a circumstance. Officers cannot check to see whether a gun pointed at them is real. So whenever anyone points any type of gun at the police, they treat it as real.
After the man raised the gun, at least one officer shot him with a Taser, York said. At almost the same instant, another officer fired his handgun at the man, hitting him once, according to York. York did not say where on his body the man was hit.
The man, who has not been identified, was taken to a hospital in critical condition and later died.
The identity of the police officer who fired the shot has not been released, but York said he's a veteran with almost 23 years on the force.
A woman and a small child, perhaps an infant, were in the apartment at the time of the shooting. It isn't clear what relation they had to the man. York said they were probably living at the apartment with him.
State police were called to conduct a separate investigation, which is normal anytime police are involved in a shooting. The officer who shot the man has been given five days' paid administrative leave, which is also normal in police shooting cases, York said.
The shooting was the second time in less than two years where a Fort Wayne officer shot a man with a look-alike gun.
In January 2009, 37-year-old Anthony Taylor armed himself with a rifle and robbed a bank in Avilla. He took a series of car rides to Fort Wayne and eventually got out of a cab on Coliseum Boulevard, toting a duffel bag in one hand and a look-alike handgun in the other.
Police officers, already warned that Taylor had shot at officers during a separate case in 1996, arrived on the scene and ordered him to drop what he was holding and stop. He ignored their orders and turned toward them with his replica handgun in his hand.
Police shot and killed him.
"We find them all the time," said York of the look-alike guns, noting what he believes is an increase in their popularity.
They are beginning to crop up in many school districts across the nation, according to York.
Last year, a Fort Wayne Community Schools official told The Journal Gazette the district confiscates about 5 to 10 such guns a year.
Officials with other local school districts said at the time that about two to four such replica guns were confiscated in their schools a year.
The guns are popular among those who like to play military or war games, similar to paintball. Most come with an orange ring or tip on theof the muzzle to indicate that it's a fake.
But, York said, those orange ends can easily be taken off, and that was the case with the gun the man pointed at police Monday.
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