Green Bay police respond to more incidents involving gel guns
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Green Bay police say there’s an alarming trend of young kids using gel guns in public. Gel guns, also known as water bead guns, are air guns that small, water-based gel pellets. Since the beginning of June, 18 incidents were reported to police, leading to a number of arrests and prompting police to direct more patrols to public spaces like parks and downtown.
Police say Thursday, June 29, a group of young people used a gel gun in a robbery at Bay Beach Amusement Park. Officers arrested five juveniles on charges of robbery, intimidation and disorderly conduct.
On Wednesday, June 28, several officers were on CityDeck responding to a group of juveniles shooting pellets at people. Police arrested six people on Washington Street, some of them juveniles, and they’re being charged with crimes including battery or threat to an officer, obstructing or resisting an officer and disorderly conduct.
The Green Bay Police Department is urging parents to talk with kids about the dangers of misusing gel guns.
“Have these conversations with children, whether they’re your friends or your own children. These guns have harmful effects. They have drastic effects where they could be charged with a crime, or in situations they can be charged with a very serious crimes if these air guns cause injury to another person,” Police Commander Kevin Warych said.
The arrests sparked pushback among some members of the community and it led to a meeting with police at Whitney Park.
“So the purpose of this gathering is to get our black youth heard,” Tyesha Jackson, the organizer, said.
Jackson says her 14-year-old son was one of the six arrested on Wednesday on Washington Street.
She organized the Whitney Park meeting with police and several community members who are black and Hispanic, concerned that police used excessive force.
Yet. officers denied those claims saying the whole story isn’t being told.
“We meet with the community members to explain why things went the way they did. There are situations where there is only a fraction of a video that is being portrayed. But we want the community that there’s so much more video. The cameras the officers wear show all this,” Warych said.
Police say these gel guns are a problem and they’re committed to transparency.
“All we ask is a seat at the table for anything, whether it’s a small issue or a big issue in our community. We just want to have a seat at the table to have a chance to explain what happened, why it happened,” Warych said.
Several others showed up to support black and brown youth as well as police.
“We just went through a terrible pandemic as well as seeing stuff happen the last two years amongst their peers. Among people who look like them and don’t look like them,” Delorean Walls of Green Bay said.
These guns pose a risk for officers, as well. In addition to pellet shootings involving people and property, officers found gel guns designed or painted to look like real firearms. In the photo below, police compare a real handgun (top of the photo) with a gel gun that has a red top (bottom of the photo). It can be challenging for officers and the general public to distinguish between the two.
“If you’re in the middle of the night and that’s raised up and used in the commission of a crime, the officer will not know if it’s real or if it’s fake, especially because they don’t see the color, especially because it’s dark outside,” Warych said. “So this all could be prevented if the guns are never used.”
“These incidents are concerning for a number of reasons, not least the risk that someone will be seriously hurt,” Police Chief Chris Davis wrote in a statement. “We take this very seriously, and anyone who attacks community members with gel pellet guns can expect to be arrested and held accountable.”
Article continues below the video
This week, Action 2 News at 4:30 anchor Chris Roth talked with Police Capt. Clint Beguhn about gun violence in Green Bay. The discussion included problems with gel guns. That discussion starts 3 minutes, 51 seconds into the video below.
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