Airsoft arrest serves as warning shot

Published 8:54 pm Saturday, February 7, 2015

Earlier this week a Washington High School student was arrested after allegedly taking an Airsoft gun to school and using it to shoot two other students.

Airsoft-style guns fire plastic pellets or BBs. The gun recovered by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s office looks like a real pistol, aside from a small orange cap on the front.

No students were harmed Monday, but the incident drew stern reactions from law enforcement and Beaufort County Schools. And rightfully so.

“This incident could have turned into a tragedy,” Sheriff Ernie Coleman said in a press release. “If the school resource officer or another law enforcement officer would have come upon the suspect during the incident, the officer would have had to use whatever force was necessary to stop the threat. Up to and including deadly force. This young man made a bad mistake, a mistake that he could have paid for with his life.”

Last November, Cleveland police shot and killed a 12-year-old boy wielding an airsoft gun. That gun was missing the orange safety tip, but was otherwise similar in appearance to the one recovered in Beaufort County this week.

The two incidents involved very different circumstances, but what happened in Cleveland serves as a stark reminder of what could have been here in Washington.

Despite some very poor decision-making this week, a high school student, a school resource officer and a community may have collectively dodged a bullet. Call it dumb luck.

The smart response is to learn from the incident, to use it as a starting point for discussion between parents and children, students and educators, law enforcement and the community.


Ashley Vansant is publisher of the Washington Daily News. He can be reached at