Tuesday, November 25, 2008
7 News Investigations: Armed and Dangerous
It looks like a cell phone, it will kill you. It looks like an ink pen, it fires bullets. It's a knife, but it's not for cutting. Weapons, all built for one purpose, murder, and it's not hard to figure out who the criminals are targeting. Tonight here is Seven News' Patrick Fraser with Armed and Dangerous.
WSVN -- This is the gun vault for the Broward Sheriff's Department.
In here, Mary Ferguson has every type of weapon taken off the streets in Broward County and several guns you would never expect to see.
Mary Ferguson, BSO Firearms Examiner: "This one is known as a pen gun."
Patrick Fraser: "That looks like a pen."
It may look like an ink pen, but it's not for writing.
Mary Ferguson: "Once this is released, it goes off and fires."
This is a knife with blades but not for cutting, for cocking.
Patrick Fraser: "And how do you fire it?"
Mary Ferguson: "You just push the lever down and it activates."
When a deputy confiscated it, he found out the hard way.
Mary Ferguson: "He didn't know, and he opened it, didn't realize, actually because it went through the palm of his hand. He pulled the trigger, and it went through his hand."
There are so many guns that don't look like guns. The cellphone gun, each key is a trigger firing four rounds.
Frank Imparato tries to keep up with the guns his men and women may face.
Lt. Frank Imparato, BSO Criminal Justice Studies: "I think the key is exposure. We expose our deputies to a lot of things we see on the Internet that can hurt them."
Things like the pen gun, the 22 caliber Zippo lighter gun and the knife that looks like a knife, until bullets come at you. All these innocent-looking weapons, all created for the same reason.
Lt. Frank Imparato: "And if you look at the cell phone, for example, obviously that is nothing more than an assassination weapon. The intent of that phone is to mislead you to put your guard down to take advantage of you, to shoot you."
The people Lt. Imparato has to worry about getting assassinated every day.
Lt. Frank Imparato: "In this job, nothing's routine."
The deputies out on the street, people like Mike Dingman.
Lt. Frank Imparato: "We've had situations where we've seen videos with people with weapons we've never seen before, so you try to keep that in the back of your mind at all times."
And it's not just devices built to hide guns. It's also toys built to look like guns. Look at this, a metal pistol, right?
Lt. Frank Imparato: "It's called an air-soft pistol."
Instead of bbs, it fires little plastic pellets. It's made for kids.
Patrick Fraser: "So, legally could a child have that?"
Lt. Frank Imparato: "Yes, they are sold in a number of different types of stores."
Two weeks ago, Dingman came face to face with someone carrying a toy gun.
Lt. Frank Imparato: "We immediately draw down on the subject, we come to find out that it is a plastic toy. It's a plastic toy molded exactly like an AR-15 or assault rifle."
If Dingman hadn't remained calm, he might have shot someone carrying a toy gun built to look like a real gun..
Lt. Frank Imparato: "If you would point that at me, I would think I'm in a deadly force situation, and I would have to stop that threat, and that's the scary part."
Just as scary when a person seems to be waving a cellphone at an officer, and it's not a phone.
Lt. Frank Imparato: "Now, does that mean we're going to shoot everybody that comes out of a car with a cellphone? Absolutely not! But what it means is if an officer says to you, 'Stop! Police! Don't move!' He's telling you to put the cellphone down."
It sounds like a strange thing for an officer to have to worry about, until you see a lighter that's a gun, a knife that fires bullets, or a person with a pen that might be armed and dangerous.