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Police shoot dead teen who points replica gun in upstate New York, authorities say

Police shoot dead teen who points replica gun in upstate New York, authorities say

NEW YORK (AP) — A police officer in upstate New York shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who was running with a “realistic-looking firearm,” authorities said Saturday.

Utica Police Chief Mark Williams said the shooting happened Friday night after officers in the city, about 240 miles (400 kilometers) northwest of Manhattan, detained two juveniles just after 10 p.m.

One of them ran and pointed what appeared to be a gun at the officers, he said during a news conference at Utica City Hall. Community members, including the young man’s family, were in attendance.

One of the officers fired a single shot at the teen “during a ground engagement,” hitting him in the chest, Williams said.

The teen received “immediate” first aid from officers and was taken to Wynn Hospital, where he died, the chief said.

He was identified in local media reports as Nyah Mway, a 13-year-old Karen refugee born in Myanmar and an 8th grade student at Donovan Middle School, and Lt. Michael Curley, a police spokesman, confirmed the name later Saturday.

Utica, a city of more than 65,000 people located along the Mohawk River, is home to more than 4,200 people from Myanmar, according to The Center, a nonprofit organization helping resettle the refugees.

The Karens are an ethnic minority among the groups at war with the military rulers of the Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma. The military ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021 and suppressed widespread nonviolent protests seeking a return to democratic rule.

Kathleen Davis, interim superintendent of the Utica City School District, extended her condolences to the victim’s family in a statement posted online.

Davis expressed his “deep sadness” over the “tragic and senseless loss” and also offered support to “our law enforcement partners who work tirelessly to ensure our streets remain safe.”

Williams, the police chief, declined to provide more details about what led to the arrest or what led up to the shooting, saying that will be part of the investigation. Officers found a replica GLOCK 17 Gen 5 pistol with a detachable magazine at the crime scene, he added.

“It is a realistic looking firearm in every respect with GLOCK markings, signatures, detachable magazine and serial numbers,” Curley said later via email, when asked to talk more about the gun. “Ultimately, though, it only shoots pellets or BBs.”

Williams said the department will release a report on the incident in the coming days, as well as full body camera video from the officers involved. The officer who fired the shot has not been publicly identified.

At city hall on Saturday, people sometimes shouted over officials’ comments, while at other times people pleaded for silence so members of the Karen community could hear an interpreter’s translations.

Mayor Michael Galime said the city will be transparent in its investigation and that he and other officials will speak privately with the teen’s family and other community members.

“We are holding this press conference so that all of you can be in this room,” he said. “We understand the weight of this situation and we want to make sure every part of this is understood. Everything will be released and everyone in this room and the entire community will have access to all that information.”

Williams said the New York state attorney general’s office will conduct the investigation and determine whether it was warranted. The office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Saturday.

According to Williams, the police department will also conduct its own internal investigation to see if officers followed policy and training.

The officers involved will be suspended with full pay in accordance with protocol, he added.

Williams said the department is aware of a video of the incident circulating on social media, but cautioned that it does not show the incident in its entirety.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of the deceased party at this difficult time,” he said. “This is a tragic and traumatic incident for all involved.”

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Succeed Philip Marcelo twitter.com/philmarcelo.

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