A 13-year old bank robbery suspect was shot and killed by Columbus, Ohio police Wednesday night after authorities say he pulled a BB gun out of his waistband during a pursuit.
Issues with knowing the difference between a BB gun and a real hand gun happen around the country.
In Sioux Falls Wednesday, a boy playing with a BB gun motioned it toward a Sioux Falls police officer.
The officer was able to stop and tell the boy why his actions were wrong.
Officer Sam Clemens said that isn’t always the case.
"If you're increasing the distance, putting it at nighttime it's almost impossible to be able to tell the difference between a bb gun and a real gun,” said Clemens.
The only distinguishing feature for some models is an orange tip on the end of the BB gun's barrel.
Officer Clemens said law enforcement, however, sees cases where a tip can be painted or removed.
Also, both BB guns and real handguns come in different body color options for buyers.
Clemens said officers handling of a situation dealing with someone holding any kind of gun leaves officers with a split second decision based on an eye test.
"Some of it may be the call that they're sent on, the information that people have. We know that witnesses aren't always accurate but sometimes they're accurate enough. If they see somebody with a gun, we have to take it on that face value that it could be a gun,” said Clemens.
Sioux Falls Police do not discourage owning a bb gun but they ask parents who do buy a BB gun for their kids to walk them through the dos and don’ts.
"You don't want to be pointing it at anybody. If you're pointing it at a target, that's fine but don't be pointing it at other people. Especially let them know, if there are police officers that show up that they shouldn't be pointing the gun at police officers,” said Clemens.
While it is legal to own a BB gun in Sioux Falls, it is illegal to fire one within the city limits.