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Published November 19 2010

Fargo boy faces terrorizing charge

A 12-year-old boy was referred to juvenile court on terrorizing charges Wednesday for allegedly pointing what turned out to be a pellet gun at passing traffic and a man with his baby.

Fargo police officers responded to Ninth Avenue South and 45th Street at 1:47 p.m. after a witness saw the boy pointing a black handgun at traffic, Sgt. Mark Lykken said.

With the help of witnesses, police found the building the boy entered and came across another victim who said the boy pointed a gun at him and his baby in the 4400 block of Ninth Avenue Circle South.

Police found the boy in his apartment in that building. He was arrested and taken to juvenile detention on suspicion of terrorizing.

A pellet gun that looks like a Sig Sauer handgun was taken into evidence, Lykken said.

The decision to refer the boy to juvenile court was based on a number of facts, said Fargo Lt. Patrick Claus.

He said officers at the scene had to make a determination of whether the boy was just playing with a gun or if he had acted in a malicious way. The decision to hold the boy was likely based on not only the boy’s behavior when officers spoke to him but also the type of toy gun he used and witness interviews.

“As far as a tipping point, there is no bright-line rule,” Claus said. “We have a mandatory arrest policy for domestic violence. Other cases have to be handled with the totality of the circumstances.”

Fargo does not have a law defining the use of replica or toy guns. Discharge of firearms within the city limits is illegal.

In Moorhead, the city is considering an ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor for someone to carry a fake firearm on their body within city limits.

The ordinance draft stemmed from a summer incident in which police were called to where filmmakers were shooting a movie using real-looking guns.