About a dozen Surrey basketball players were the recipient of the Kelowna RCMP’s version of a full court press Thursday afternoon, after a pair of toy guns got them temporarily arrested.
Members of the Tamanawis Wildcats – in Kelowna to play a tournament this weekend – were heading to a Subway restaurant at the Capri Mall in downtown Kelowna at about 2:15 p.m. Thursday, when a police officer noticed one of them tucking a pistol in the back of his sweat pants.
They would later find out that one of two women chaperones – a mother of one of the children – also had a mock pistol in her purse.
Perceiving a potential danger to the public at the crowded mall, the officer called for back-up – which included general duty officers, a helicopter, an emergency response team and police dogs.
RCMP waited for other customers to leave, then called the restaurant and told staff to clear out the premises.
They then ordered the dozen ball players to leave the restaurant and arrested them.
They seized the two replica handguns and the team was subsequently released without charges.
“It is very concerning, and it is treated accordingly,” said Kelowna RCMP Sgt. Ann Morrison. “We assume that it’s a real firearm until we’re able to determine that it’s not… they look very real.”
Surrey Board of Education Chair Laurae McNally says the kids should not have had replica guns in their possession.
She said mailers are often sent out to schools asking that students not bring them to school or school events.
Maybe it’s time to do that again, McNally said.
It’s not yet known whether there will be ramifications for the students, but McNally said the situation is under review by district staff to find out exactly what happened.
“I just don’t know why we allow these things to be sold in stores,” McNally said. “I don’t ever understand that.”
– with files from Kelowna Capital News