Carimah Townes/Think Progress
A 13-year-old boy in Columbus, Ohio was shot and killed by police on Wednesday night. Police thought he was armed, but he was actually holding a BB gun.
Tyre King was one of three people who police say fit the description of a group of armed robbery suspects. On Wednesday night, a man reported that he was mugged by a group of people, and that one of the perpetrators had a gun. Soon after, police zeroed in on 13-year-old King and his friends.
King and one other immediately took off running when they saw officers approaching. A police statement claims that officers chased the runners and, when they caught up, tried to arrest them. That’s when King allegedly pulled a gun out of his waistband — and an officer shot him “multiple times.”
The boy died after he was transported to a local hospital in critical condition. Authorities later discovered that King had been carrying a BB gun with a laser pointer.
An investigation is currently underway. Few details about King, the officers involved, or the suspects have been released. According to WCMH, theshooter has worked for the Columbus Police Department for nine years.
Little is known about who King was, but he’s not the first young boy to be shot — and killed — by police for holding a fake gun. Perhaps the most well-known victim was 12-year-old Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Ohio, who was shot within two seconds of police driving up to him in a park in 2014. More recently, Dedric Colvin, an eighth grader from Baltimore was gunned down after police saw him with a BB gun and chased him down. Colvin survived, but other people his age haven’t been so lucky.
In general, young black people are perceived as more dangerous than they actually are. Research shows that police associate blackness with criminality — even when it comes to kids and teenagers. And a damning study by the American Psychological Association concluded that black boys in particular look older to cops than their white counterparts, and “less innocent.”