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12-Year-Old Boy Carrying Replica Gun Dies After Cleveland Officer Shoots

A 12-year-old boy carrying a replica gun has died after a Cleveland Police officer opened fire on Saturday.

According to a statement, police received a call warning of someone pointing a gun at people near a playground

"Upon arrival on scene, officers located the suspect and advised him to raise his hands," police say. "The suspect did not comply with the officers' orders and reached to his waistband for the gun. Shots were fired and the suspect was struck in the torso."

The suspect turned out to be a 12-year-old boy playing with a replica gun that fires pellets. The gun, which was shown to local media at the scene, was missing an orange tip, which is meant to identify a toy gun.

The boy was taken to Metro Health Medical Center. Hospital spokesman Jonah Levin-Rosenblum says he died this morning.

At briefing after the shooting, a police spokesman said the boy did not confront or threaten the officer. In the 911 call obtained by, an unidentified male says the "guy" was pointing a gun at everybody in the playground and while it was "probably fake" it was scaring him.

Cleveland Police said this shooting would be investigated further.

As we've reported on this blog previously, cases like these highlight the issue with replica guns. The Center for Public Integrity, for example, has focused some of its reporting on the National Rifle Association's attempts to derail new laws that would demand replica guns be entirely transparent or neon colored.

As CPI reports:

"One of the main arguments pellet-gun industry representatives put forth was that parts of real guns are now being painted neon colors — including pink — and that police would be endangered by confusion. Reeves, de Leon's staffer, said opponents organized an effective campaign. "It seemed that every teenage boy between here and Kentucky was writing to us against this," he said.

"Opponents also argued that the proposal was pre-empted by federal law excluding higher velocity airguns from color requirements. They additionally said it could create a false sense of security by implying that BB and pellet guns were entirely safe, when in reality those weapons could be lethal in certain circumstances."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.