Philadelphia Police say they questioned a 10-year-old boy seen in a video pointing a semi-automatic handgun at one girl and later a U.S. Marine. Police sources tell NBC10 they were able to determine that the gun isn't real.
The young boy, escorted by his parents, turned himself into police this evening but was later released, according to the authorities.
Wearing a backpack, red T-shirt and shorts, a young boy was captured on surveillance video trotting up to a group of girls walking near 16th and Ontario Streets in the Tioga section of Philadelphia around 6:30 p.m. Monday.
The boy, believed to be between 10 and 12 years old, pulls the toy handgun out of his pants and points it at one of the girls. The young woman can be seen putting her hands in the air as she slowly walks across the street. Moments later, an older boy comes up to the child with a backpack and takes the gun away.
That boy then walks down Ontario Street, drops to one knee and points the gun in the direction of a group of kids walking towards him. He then jumps up and runs towards the group brandishing the weapon.
"The other guy is following the boy closely to make sure he gets that gun back, so I would never presume that it's a toy gun." Philadelphia Police Lt. George McClay said.
Twenty minutes later, police say the same boys approached a 27-year-old man along the 3300 block of North 16th Street. Police say one of the boys then reached into his backpack, pulled out the handgun and said “Hey buddy.”
The man, a U.S. Marine, ran into a nearby home and called 911. Lt. McClay said the unidentified Marine also grabbed his weapon. In the meantime, the kids fled south on 16th Street toward Allegheny Avenue.
"By the time he gets back outside, these guys are already gone," Lt. McClay said. "Luckily enough, they are gone, cause this could've turned out to be a real disaster."
Surveillance video later shows the kids surrounding a SUV as it pulls up to a stop sign. The teens pile on top of the hood as others speak to the occupants of the vehicle. A few minutes later, the car drives off without an incident.
Philadelphia Police say they are searching for three kids in relation to these incidents. Their identities are unknown. Police believe smaller boy is between 10 and 12-years-old and that the two others are between 14 and 16-years-old.
Residents who live near where the incident took place were shocked by what happened.
"You can't just leave your kids on the streets like that, let the streets get a hold of them, you know," Karen Brown told NBC10.
"Oh my gosh, that gotta be the parent's fault," said Marian Brown. When I was coming up, you ain't have to worry about all of that."
This incident comes two weeks after two Philadelphia teens were shot outside Overbrook High School. Bernard Scott, 17, was killed after being caught in the crossfire during a fight at a playground across from the school.
Two suspects were taken into custody in that case, but charges have yet to be filed.
In response to gun violence at city-owned parks and recreation centers, officials passed a gun ban on those properties in March. Mayor Michael Nutter signed the ban into law a few weeks later.
Under the ban, violators face a fine of up to $2,000.
Anyone with information about the handgun assault case is asked to call Philadelphia Police's Northwest Detective Division at 215.686.3353.
Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.