White Ohio Police Officer Shoots Black Boy, 13, Armed With BB Gun

A white Ohio police officer responding to a robbery report shot to death a 13-year-old black boy after he pulled out what appeared to be a weapon that was later determined to be a BB gun, police said on Thursday.

Tyree King was shot multiple times in an alley when he drew what appeared to be a handgun from his waistband during a confrontation with officers on Wednesday in Columbus, the state capital, police said.

"We consider it a tragedy when something like this happens," Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said at a news conference. "This is the last thing any police officer wants."

Jacobs identified the officer who shot King as Bryan Mason, a nine-year veteran of the force. Mason was placed on temporary administrative duty, pending an internal investigation.

King's death comes nearly two years after the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was black, by a white Cleveland, Ohio police officer who responded to reports of a suspect with a gun in a city park.

An investigation revealed that Rice, who died a day after the shooting, had been seen holding a replica gun that shoots plastic pellets.

Rice's death became a rallying point for the Black Lives Matter movement and one of a number of deaths that led to demonstrations against the use of excessive and sometimes deadly force against minorities, especially black men, by police officers across the United States.

On July 5, police shot dead 37-year-old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while 32-year-old Philando Castile was fatally shot by police in St. Paul, Minnesota, a day later.

In King's death, detectives retrieved the weapon from the scene of the shooting and later determined it was a BB gun, which shoots small round pellets, with an attached laser, police said.

"It looks like a firearm that could kill you," Jacobs said, as she held up an image of the same type of BB gun.

The incident began just before 8 p.m. EDT when police responded to reports of an armed robbery. The robbery victim told officers that a group of males approached him and demanded money after threatening him with a gun, police said.

Officers found three males, including King, matching the descriptions of the suspects a short time later, police said. While attempting to question them, King and another male fled into an alley.

Police followed and attempted to arrest them. Mason shot King, police said, after he pulled what appeared to be the handgun from his waistband.

King was transported to the Nationwide Children's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The second male who ran into the alley was interviewed by police and released. Additional suspects were being sought, police said.

A grand jury will ultimately decide whether the officer should face criminal charges, Jacobs said.

The hashtag #TyreeKing was among the most used on Twitter in the United States on Thursday morning, as social media users expressed outrage over the shooting and drew comparisons between King and Tamir Rice.

While angry messages flooded social media, Columbus officials called for calm during an investigation into the death.

"These are crushing circumstances for everyone," said Columbus Councilman Mitchell Brown. "Let the process work."

Banner image credit: Twitter, ‏@ComplexMag

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