A suspect in Florida who was killed Saturday for waving a "military-style rifle" at cars and officers was actually a teenage student brandishing an Airsoft pellet rifle, according to authorities.
Tarpon Springs police shot and killed 17-year-old Alexander King just before 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Investigators say police responded after multiple 911 calls about a "white male wearing dark clothing pointing a military-style rifle" at passersby.
When police arrived, King allegedly lifted the weapon, charged it, and pointed it at officers, Chief Jeff Young told WTVT.
A video from the incident appears to show King yelling "shoot me" toward police at the scene. Officers took cover behind a nearby vehicle and say they were forced to open fire on King, who was hit several times and later pronounced dead at a local medical facility.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman Jeremy Burns told the Washington Examiner the incident is under investigation, noting it is still "early" in the inquiry.
Tarpon Springs Police Department
The teenager was a student at Tarpon Springs High School and reportedly had 22 previous encounters with law enforcement, 11 with Pinellas County police agencies and 11 with the Tarpon Springs Police Department.
The student also had a felony arrest for battery of a school board employee in 2017 and another for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in 2017. Despite King's record, there were no previous posts on social media indicating what may have led to the incident on Sunday.
According to social media logs, King posted four photos and a video with the Airsoft rifle in March with a caption: "New Airsoft Vietnam era M14. I absolutely love it."
Following the incident, two officers were placed on administrative leave, the standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting. The FDLE will investigate the shooting to ensure proper procedures were taken regarding the incident, a spokesperson told the Washington Examiner.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Alex King," Young said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers and their families as they, too, deal with the aftermath of this event."
Tarpon Springs High School officials said counselors were standing by for students following the incident.
"The Pinellas County Schools community is saddened by the passing of one of our students at Tarpon Springs High School," school system spokeswoman Isabel Mascareñas wrote. "The district Students Services team will provide grief counselors for students and staff needing assistance. Our thoughts and prayers are with the student's family and friends."
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Original Author: Kaelan Deese