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Bedford County Sheriff's Office warns about realistic BB guns

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(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

BEDFORD COUNTY (WSLS 10) - When Roanoke County police shot and killed Kionte Spencer in February, he was carrying a BB gun as opposed to a real pistol.

It was not until after the incident that they learned the firearm was a non-functioning BB gun.

While the department has received a lot of criticism for the shooting, deputies in Bedford County last week were almost forced into a similar situation.

Sgt. Chris Wimmer showed us these two guns.

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One a BB pistol and the other, a true hand gun.

"So at a glance, it's hard to tell the difference, even close up," explained Wimmer. "But far away for just a second or two, it's even more difficult, almost impossible."

Hand guns at a local gun shop can now be purchased in shades of pink and other colorful designs. It's part of a trend to make real guns more attractive to potential women buyers.

For police, it's just one more factor that makes their decisions difficult and potential outcomes less than desirable.

"The training that we instill in our officers is that you must treat every weapon as if it is real, as if it is loaded. We don't know who's out here wanting to cause serious harm to us, so we have officers treat every situation is if it is a real gun," said Wimmer.

In Bedford County's recent incident, officers used a Taser to disarm the suspect as he moved toward them. Had that not worked, Wimmer confirms they would have used lethal force. Even here they did not know until afterward that the man was carrying a BB gun.

"I'd like the public to realize that the police officer can't take into account that a toy gun is always going to have an orange tip on the end," said Wimmer


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