Fake vs. real guns, officials explain how difficult it can be to tell the difference

West Valley, Utah — Newly released police body camera video shows just how hard it can be for officers to tell the difference between fake guns and the real thing.

There was a confrontation between teens and police that easily could have taken a fatal turn.

“Every parent we talk to says not my child, my child wouldn’t do that, sometimes good kids make bad decision,” says Chief Lee Russo of West Valley City police.

Monroe Elementary was the unlikely site for some scary extracurricular.

“Our officers are responding to a 911 call from a citizen about two individuals that they see carrying guns,” explains Russo.

Police find them behind the school.

“He’s ducked himself back behind that column so he’s taking up a defensive position against the officer that are now advancing toward him and a second suspect pops out who’s carrying a weapon,” Russo explains the footage captured.

“As you hear in the confrontation they aren’t exactly cooperating,” Russo explains further.

“These are highly concerning and threatening behaviors these two exhibited toward these police officers.”

Moments later, relief floods the situation.

They surrender.

They’re 15-year-old boys. Police recover what had them worried in the first place.

“There’s a replica shotgun and a pistol,” Russo states.

The chief says fake guns have the potential to cause real problems. He showed us pictures of guns, real and fake, side-by-side.

“This toy, quite frankly, could be the last toy that their child ever plays with,” Russo warns. Parents need to understand: it’s hard for officers to tell the difference, especially in the dark, and in a split-second. And we just don’t want to see a bad decision become a life altering decision for someone.”

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