RCMP called for a lockdown at Penticton Secondary School on Friday after a resident saw a student walking around with what they thought was a rifle.
“There was a situation where some students were producing a film outside. They were instructed to stay inside and somebody from the public saw one of the students holding a gun, not realizing it was a fake gun,” said principal Bill Bidlake.
Police called for a lockdown at the school and shut down the area for about 15 minutes until the officers made contact with the students and found the rifle to be an air soft gun.
Bidlake said RCMP officers spent time doing assemblies with the students afterwards to remind them of the dangers involved in bringing weapons to school or having them in public when they can be perceived to look authentic.
“It was a mistake and unfortunately the police were involved because at the time we didn’t know how serious it was,” said Bidlake.
Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said the air soft gun was confiscated by RCMP and that it was “a very good replica of an automatic rifle,” adding it looked like an AK-47.
“This is what happens, much like the dynamite incident last week. If we get a call of a gun we treat it very real until we can prove otherwise. When you are walking around with what appears to be a weapon you can bet someone is going to phone and we are going to act as if it is real, especially around a school,” said Dellebuur.
Last November two similar complaints of suspected guns involving youth prompted RCMP to issue a warning about air soft or pellet guns. One incident involved a Pen High student carrying a pellet gun while walking to school. The stock had been cut off and the barrel plugged at the end. In the other incident a member of the public called RCMP after they saw youths in an empty lot around Vancouver Avenue wearing camouflage carrying what they believed to be rifles. The weapons turned out to be pellet guns that were altered to look like an authentic rifle.
“A member could have got out, drawn his gun and there could have been confusion. You would hate to think what would happen,” said Dellebuur of the incidents.
It is not illegal to posses air soft or pellet guns, but RCMP said it is an issue when they are altered to make them look real. It can results in a criminal charge and also becomes an issue of safety.