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 Tyre 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 males 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.”
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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.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, King’s family said he was a typical 13-year-old child. He was active in football, soccer, hockey and gymnastics. They said the actions described by Columbus police are out of his normal character.
The family of King retained Walton + Brown, LLP, a Columbus based civil rights law firm to “ensure that the investigation into his tragic death is conducted in a manner that ensures fairness and truth.”
In a statement, attorney Chanda L. Brown said in a statement:
The family is obviously distraught by the murder of Tyre. Our preliminary research indicates that Tyre was a child who was loved and cherished by his family. The grief is worsened further by the fact that this death comes at the hands of a man who was sworn to protect the citizens of Columbus. We love our city and there are many positive things than can be said about the people that live here. However, the Columbus Police Department has a history of investigating itself following these officer involved shootings and we believe that these investigations are inherently biased. The best thing that the City of Columbus could do to ease the minds and fears of its citizens is to step aside and let an independent party investigate the matter.
Attorney Sean L. Walton continued:
The family of Tyre King asks for support from their community as they seek answers in this tragic killing. Please do not rush to judgment. We also have to remind everyone that the “facts” being discussed in the media are not facts at all. We do not know what he did or did not do. There are allegations that have been made regarding his actions, and those allegations cannot be taken as factual until a thorough, unbiased investigation has taken place. Please keep that in mind as we discuss the killing of this 13-year-old child. There are multiple witnesses that we have been made aware of that do not corroborate the current narrative. Please keep the family in your prayers and understand that until we have answers we must continue to call for transparency and accountability not only in all police involved killings, but especially in the case of this 13-year-old boy.
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.”