AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money.

A deadly illusion -- GA citizens with BB guns shot and killed by police


In two separate incidents, all in the same week, police in Georgia shot and killed two men threatening them with BB air guns.

How often does this happen?

The answer: About 5 percent of the people shot and killed by police in Georgia are carrying a BB gun or some other toy replica gun. Since 2010, the police in Georgia fatally shot 247 people in the line of duty and 12 of them were armed with an air gun or toy replica, according to data collected by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Georgia incidents involved suspects who were either threatening officers with the BB guns or using the BB guns during the commission of a crime. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released photos in the recent incidents showing the BB guns the men were carrying before they were killed by police. The incidents -- one on Jan 25 in Gwinnett County and the other on Jan. 23 in Savannah -- demonstrate how realistic some BB guns can look, particularly in the heat of a confrontation with police.

A third incident under investigation by the GBI occurred in December near a school in southwest Atlanta. A man carrying a BB gun tried to enter a December occurred near a school. The man was shot by police, but he survived.

AJC Data Editor Jennifer Peebles contributed reporting.


Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Brad Schrade is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the AJC’s investigative team.