(SNO) –– A man who was shot by a police officer at Lanse Road, Castries yesterday had an imitation firearm, law enforcement sources have confirmed.
According to a reliable source, police responded to a report around 11 a.m. on Monday that a man was brandishing a firearm and threatening to shoot and kill members of the people.
“Police did not receive a report that a mentally challenged man was branding a toy gun, a water gun. The report received is that a man was threatening the public with a firearm that was in full view of the public,” the source said.
When the police arrived at the scene, they met an adult male, indeed, brandishing a firearm. They reportedly told him to freeze and put away the firearm, but this fell on deaf ears.
“He was acting in an aggressive manner, cursing and pointing the firearm at the officers. The firearm looked real. The officers had all right to shoot to kill at this time, because no officer can tell at that point whether the firearm was real or not,” the source said.
According to the source, the officers tackled the suspect, in an effort to disarm him but he continued to put up a struggle. It was during this time, that one of the officers allegedly discharged a round into the leg of the suspect.
“This did not stop the man from fighting the officers who were still trying to disarm him. Even with the shot to the leg he still continued to fight,” the source added.
Reports are that the officers discharged another bullet, hitting the suspect in his chest.
The suspect was identified as Mervin Beharry. He has been admitted at Victoria Hospital in stable condition.
The officers sustained minor injuries, according to reports.
Another source said the officers should be commended for their initial restraint.
“Their actions were admirable, because even after being threatened with a firearm that looked real, and no one could tell if it was real or not unless they inspected it. But how could you inspect a firearm during such a situation when the person is acting aggressively?” the source said.
“A water gun is a toy. He had an imitation firearm that can only be determined by an armorer and that has not been done. When a man pointing a gun at you and fighting with you, you believe you will examine a gun? The whole point of an imitation firearm is that it looks just like the real one.”
Reports are that the suspect was also mentally challenged. But from initial appearance, that did not appear so, according to reliable sources.
“He did not appear retarded. He was not retarded,” one of the source said.
Imitation firearms are illegal in Saint Lucia, and many countries.