News Local

OPP hard on air-soft guns

Lance Holdforth

By Lance Holdforth, Special to QMI Agency

ALLISTON — A group of teens were at the centre of an Ontario Provincial Police firearms investigation after a woman reported seeing youths in possession of long-rifles in Riverdale Park, Tuesday.

According to Nottawasaga OPP, officers swarmed the park around 12 p.m. in search of a group believed to be walking around with rifles.

"We got a weapons call around 11:50 a.m. after a complainant saw about four to six males with what she described as a rifle or a long-gun of some kind," Const. Kelly Daniels-Griffis said. "She (complainant) didn't know if they fired it off, but she did give a description of two vehicles, so we flooded the area, and there were quite a few officers in the area which was great, but we didn't find the kids."

Officers were mobilized to search for the vehicles on roadways, but the investigation led police to Banting Memorial High School after a school officer suggested students may have been involved.

"We take weapons calls very seriously, especially if the weapon was in the school," Daniels-Griffis said. "We did locate the two vehicles at Banting Memorial High School and we requested the students come out to the vehicles and they consented to a search of the vehicles and what we found was a case that said 'Beretta' and an air-soft rifle inside."

The investigation was the second in two days involving firearms after OPP were called to a Nelson Street home in Alliston where a 72-year-old man suffering from dementia was located walking in the neighbourhood while carrying a .303 calibre rifle.

OPP later found a stash of 11 firearms in the man's home.

When police respond to calls regarding firearms of any kind, Daniels-Griffis said it's no laughing matter.

"If we would have stopped the vehicle on the road it would have been a high-risk takedown for us," she said. "We wouldn't know if it's an air-soft gun or a real rifle, so all of our officers would have had their firearms drawn for their safety and the safety of the public."

Although air-soft guns are sold as toys and relatively harmless, police take every precaution when entering a situation where there may be a gun involved.

"If it looks like a regular gun you can't be walking around with it in public, obviously, and you can't be in a public park doing that sort of thing because it's ridiculous," she said. "They are going to be treated as a real gun and police will investigate the weapons call until they can determine if it's a real firearm or not. So they (suspects) will get the attention of police and they may not like that."

Police say the guns weren't fired in a public place and no charges were laid.



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