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How a 13-Year-Old with a BB Gun Was Gunned Down by Police

Ohio teenager Tyre King was chased by cops after a man told a 9-1-1 dispatcher he'd been robbed of ten bucks.

Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs holds up a photo showing the type of BB gun police say 13-year-old Tyre King pulled from his waistband just before he was shot and killed this week in Ohio. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)

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On Wednesday night, police in Columbus, Ohio, responded to a call from a man who said he'd been robbed by a group of teenagers. The victim, who was only out a tiny bit of cash, didn't see any point in fighting back. "I'm not going to mess with it over $10," he told the dispatcher.

But police did mess with it––fast. Just minutes later, cops chased a 13-year-old named Tyre King and a friend of his into an alleyway, where police say he pulled a very real-looking BB-gun from his waistband. A witness heard the gunshots start while she still on the line with 9-1-1 and started screaming.


King was pronounced dead at Nationwide Children's Hospital around 8:30 PM.

Demetrius Braxton, who is 19 and was in the alley with King, admitted to police during questioning that the slain teen had wanted to rob someone for money. His account may diverge from that of cops, however, in that he says King was running away when he was gunned down. For his part, Braxton was released without being charged, and Officer Bryan Mason, the nine-year veteran who shot King, is on leave while the shooting is investigated.

This is the second time in as many years Ohio has been rocked by the death of a black child killed by a white officer who mistook a toy for a deadly threat. In November 2014, Cleveland police caused national outrage when they shot and killed 12-year-old named Tamir Rice, who was playing with a pellet gun at a playground.

In that case, the 9-1-1 caller who reported the ostensible threat mentioned thinking the gun might not be real, a detail that was not relayed to the responding officers. Another key difference, of course, is that Rice was not suspected of committing a crime, however trivial.

For those reasons, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs says a comparison between the two deaths is unfair. Still, Mayor Andrew Ginther seemed to suggest a common thread ran through both deaths––that they wouldn't have happened absent a culture that teaches kids weapons are for play.

"There is something wrong in this country, and it is bringing its epidemic to our city streets," he said Thursday. "And a 13-year-old is dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns and violence."

Michael Bell, founder of a local football group for area teens, added that eighth-grader's death might have been prevented had there been enough kids in his age group that year to form a team. King, who was reportedly small for his age, was in the young scholars program at his STEM magnet school, and active in several sports.

"He could have been at practice last night," Bell told the Columbus Dispatch. "It's so disturbing that one bad decision ended his life."

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