Yonkers air gun warning

August 25, 2010 2:54:56 PM PDT
Police in Yonkers arrested some teenage boys after they were found playing with air guns that resembled real weapons.

Pellet guns used for target practice don't have bullets, but they can still hurt someone.

"It was extremely traumatic. One minute we're in the backyard playing, the next we're surrounded by cops. My brother's on the floor crying and I'm arrested. We were literally just playing," Keith Defino said.

17-year-old Keith Defino and his 14 and 11-year-old brothers were doing the usual a week and a half ago, playing with replica air guns outside their Vineyard Avenue home.

The guns look similar to an assault rifle, a tactical shotgun, and a hand gun.

They're equipped with lasers, flashlights and shoot pellets.

"They are illegal in the City of Yonkers. These kids had these. People in the neighborhood thought they were real guns and thought there was a gun fight. They called police," Police Commissioner Edmund Hartnett said.

Responding officers arrived at midnight and said they couldn't tell what was real or fake.

Wednesday afternoon at police headquarters, they put the replica guns side by side with real weapons to show just how hard it is to tell the difference.

"This is what one of the children was carrying. As you can see it looks very similar to what we carry. In low light we really wouldn't be able to tell the difference," explained an officer.

Police want to send a clear message: these guns are illegal in Yonkers.

They say the guns should never be modified to look real by removing the red tip or covering the green handles with black tape.

"I think the officers that responded should be commended for their incredible restraint. This could have been a tragedy," Hartnett said.

The boys are charged with menacing and given tickets for breaking ordinances.

Their father still doesn't understand what they did wrong.

"They got this gun online. If it was against the law then how did they sell it to us? How did they send it to us? We have a New York address," Raymond Defino said.

"Where is the crime in playing in front of your house? Has it gotten to the point now where the kids can't play in front of their home?" Attorney Cesar Gonzalez said.

17-year-old Keith is now under curfew.

He has to be inside the house by 7 p.m. each evening.