COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A Columbus police officer fatally shot a 13-year-old boy he was trying to detain following reports of an armed robbery, officials said.
Authorities identified the teenager as Tyree King, an 8th grader at Linden-McKinley STEM Academy. The Columbus Division of Police said in a statement that King “pulled a gun from his waistband” when officers attempted to take him and another male into custody Wednesday night.
This happened around 7:45pm near the corner of South 18th Street and East Capital Street.
Columbus police responded to the area after a robbery victim claimed a group of individuals had robbed him at gunpoint. Officers then spotted three men matching the description in front of 33 Hoffman Street and tried to talk to them.
Two of the males then ran away, and officers followed them to an alley behind 27 Hoffman Street.
“Officers followed the males to the alley … and attempted to take them into custody when one suspect pulled a gun from his waistband,” a police statement said. “One officer shot and struck the suspect multiple times.”
King was taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 8:22 p.m. No one else was injured.
Crime Scene Search Unit detectives determined the teen was holding a BB gun with an attached laser sight.
“We are talking about a 13-year-old that we believe was involved in an armed robbery,” CPD Chief Kim Jacobs said during a news conference. “I know that some of the officers at the scene were very disturbed about the fact that here we are out at this time of the night chasing armed 13-year-olds.”
“We oughta be shocked and angry as a community. In the safest big city in America, we have a 13-year-old dead in our city. That’s unacceptable,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “We as a community need to come to grips with the fact, with such easy access to guns, whether they’re firearms or replicas, there’s something wrong in this country and it’s bringing its epidemic to our city streets.”
According to police, the officer who fired the shots is Brian Mason, a nine-year veteran of the force who just recently transferred to the zone where Wednesday night’s shooting happened. As with all police-involved shootings, the officers will receive “mandated psychological support counseling” and be given the opportunity to “take leave time to assist in recovery from a traumatic experience,” according to the Columbus Division of Police.
“I will not let an officer out on the street to perform their job if I don’t trust them to be capable of doing so,” Jacobs said.
King was last enrolled at Linden STEM Academy as an 8th grader. There are grief counselors at the school today.
Police say the officers involved were not wearing body cameras. Last month, 30 Columbus cops began testing body-worn cameras and the department is expected to fully implement the devices by the end of the year.
“It is a technology we believe can really help continue to improve and increase safety here in Columbus, and that’s why it’s such a high priority for us,” said Mayor Ginther. “Our goal and our expectation is for those to start to be deployed by the beginning of next year.”
The shooting and robbery are still under investigation. Evidence will go to a grand jury who will ultimate decide if there will be criminal charges.
“A 13-year-old is dead in the city of Columbus because of our obsession with guns and violence,” Mayor Ginther added. “It is time for this city and this community to step up to make sure that our children and our neighborhoods are safe.”