- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier confirmed Wednesday that the weapon drawn by an 18-year-old fatally shot by police in Southeast was a BB gun.

The Washington Times first reported that the man, who has since been identified as 18-year-old Rafael Briscoe, was carrying a BB gun as he fled from officers Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve seen the gun,” Chief Lanier told reporters at Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s weekly press conference. “It looks very much like a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun.”

She said there was no way for officers at the time of the shooting to determine whether it was a real handgun or not.

Officers were back in the neighborhood on Wednesday and a makeshift memorial was taking shape near the spot where the young man was struck. Mourners left flowers, a menagerie of stuffed animals, Ramen noodles, a T-shirt with printed messages and a bottle of Ciroc red berry vodka.

Members of the department’s Gun Recovery Unit were on assignment Tuesday in Southeast when they observed Mr. Briscoe with a bulge under his shirt and attempted to stop him, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the incident told The Times. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of lack of authority to speak publicly on the matter.

Two officers began chasing Mr. Briscoe on foot while two other officers in a vehicle drove to get ahead of him, the source said. As the officers in the car caught up to Mr. Briscoe in the 2400 block of Elvans Road, he pulled the BB gun from his waistband and turned toward them.

One of the officers fired twice, striking Mr. Briscoe in the chest once, the police source said.

Mr. Briscoe died at a local hospital. Police have not released information on where he lived.

Chief Lanier said she did not know whether the BB gun was fired.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s Force Investigations Team is investigating the shooting and the officer involved has been placed on administrative leave.

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