Beloit police chief reacts to scary situation after 9-year-old points apparent gun at family and officers

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BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — What to do when involved in a standoff is something law enforcement officers spend time and effort training for–but many hope they don’t have to use those skills.

On Tuesday, police in Beloit were called into action for one of those tense situations. The department’s chief says the suspect–a 9-year old with a handgun–put the stakes even higher.

“In any given day this would have been hard but especially in today’s environment where every officer’s use of force is under extreme scrutiny, I can only imagine the stress those officers were feeling as they were going to that scene,” said Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski.

On Tuesday, City of Beloit police officers received a call for a 9-year-old chasing their family with what appeared to be a handgun.

“The situation with this particular youth was there was no communication, he was pointing the gun yelling ‘shoot me’ and the officers had to make a very quick decision,” Chief Zibolski said.

Adding to the difficulty, the child is diagnosed with autism.

“This particular child suffers from behavior issues and also has a fixation with firearms,” the chief explained.

Officers used their training to act quickly.

“You can imagine looking at the barrel of what you perceive as a real gun, being protected by a ballistic shield, and having to take that shot in a position where we don’t hit the kid in an area of his body that might cause some significant injuries,” Chief Zibolski added.

In this case, they used a rubber bullet to disorient the child and saw the gun was fake.

“Many of them receive specialized training…they all receive the integrated communications assessment and tactics training which is a de-escalation, critical decision-making model that allows them at any given set of circumstances to evaluate and use the least amount of force as is necessary,” the chief added.

A local psychologist suggested that talking with your kids about violence could help prevent scenes like this.

“Being able to talk with them about these issues, about violent behavior in society, and better ways to handle those sorts of thoughts and feelings when you get upset, you get angry, you get frustrated you talk about it in appropriate ways to express those emotions,” said Kyle Cushing, a clinical psychologist for Glenwood Center.

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