Update: Earlier this week, we reported about an incident at a Lakewood Walmart in which police officers shot a domestic-violence suspect who'd aimed a weapon at them, only to discover afterward that he possessed an Airsoft gun as opposed to the real thing; see our previous coverage below.
The Lakewood Police Department has now identified the man in question as Alex Martines, who sometimes spells his last name as "Martinez." And it turns out he was already on the cops' radar.
Martines's wounds weren't life-threatening, and after being treated and released at an area hospital, he was arrested and booked into Jefferson County jail on four outstanding warrants, as well as felony menacing, domestic violence, third-degree assault and harassment.
We've included a full-size version of Martines's booking photo at the end of the post. In the meantime, here's our previous coverage, including a detailed description of the incident and a Denver Police Department photo quiz involving fake or replica guns.
Original post, 8:50 a.m. May 6: Early this morning, Lakewood Police Department officers opened fire on a man who pointed a weapon at them, only to realize afterward that he held an Airsoft gun, as opposed to a genuine gat.
The man is expected to survive the incident. Meanwhile, an LPD spokesman emphasizes that telling the difference between a real gun and a fake one is nearly impossible at times -- a point underscored by a visual quiz created by Denver police. See the quiz photos and get more details about this morning's incident below.
At about 3:20 a.m., says the LPD's Steve Davis, "there was a domestic situation going on in a car on the east side of Walmart," located near the intersection of Colfax and Wadsworth. He adds that the caller was "the female half" of a couple.
Davis emphasizes that "there was never anything that took place inside the store -- and I'm told she may work there, but I don't know that for a fact."
The couple "was in the car" when she called dispatch, he continues, "and then as we were responding, she gave us information that the man with her had a gun. There was never any indication that it wasn't a real gun -- no reason to think she knew at that point it was anything other than real."
Shortly thereafter, Davis says, "the two officers found the car and tried to give the man commands to get him out. It took quite some time, but he finally got out -- and when he did, he had this weapon in his waistband. Then he pulled it out and pointed it at the officers, and they both fired at him."
Each officer fired "a couple of shots apiece," Davis notes -- "certainly not more than six. And the suspect fell, but he wouldn't release the weapon he was holding. He appeared to be trying to raise it up again. So one of the officers covered him while the other one went back to his car and got less-than-lethal rounds -- beanbag rounds. And it's my understanding that he actually shot the gun out of his hand using one of the beanbag rounds."
Then, and only then, did the officers realize the weapon the man held was an Airsoft gun, Davis says.
The suspect was transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Indeed, Davis is told that he may be released to police custody as early as this morning. Once he's booked, he will be named -- a trickier prospect than usual in this case, because Davis says the man may have provided some false information about his identity.
The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on leave, per standard operating procedure in such cases, and a so-called "shoot team" made up of personnel from other law enforcement agencies in Jefferson County will investigate the incident. But Davis stresses the realistic look of Airsoft guns.
"Some of them have an orange tip on the barrel to indicate that they aren't a real weapon," he says. "But we're finding a lot of people -- especially gang members -- are painting that orange tip black, so there's no indication it's anything other than the real thing."
Did the suspect's gun have a brightly colored tip? Davis doesn't know at this point. But even if it did, he says that given the dark conditions of the face-off and the officers standing at a distance of thirty-to-forty feet when he pulled the gun, "I doubt if anyone could know immediately that it wasn't real."
Denver police made the same point last November in an online quiz that asked, "CAN YOU TELL WHICH GUNS ARE REAL AND WHICH ARE FAKE?"
Here are the first four photos of guns, followed by four more. We'll reveal the the answers to the DPD question after you get a chance to peruse all of them.
According to DPD spokesman Sonny Jackson, with whom we spoke for our original post, the department decided to put together the quiz following a couple of recent cases, including one that took place late last week. "A party was arrested with what we discovered was a BB gun, but it looked very real," he said. "And we also contacted a couple of juveniles who had guns that looked very, very real."
With that in mind, the quiz is "more of an education thing," he continued. "It's really kind of shocking how realistic these replica guns look anymore. And some manufacturers of real guns are making ones that look fake. They're pink and other colors you wouldn't expect a gun to be."
We found some examples of this phenomenon on the Pretty Pink Arsenal blogspot. Here's a photo of a handgun that provides a new way to say, "Hello Kitty...."
while this one sports an equally bright and happy hue....
...and this one looks like it should fire hot glue, not lead projectiles.
In Jackson's view, looking at these weapons, whether they're phony or not, "just shows how challenging it can be to tell whether a gun is real or not."
Here's a 7News report about this morning's shooting at Walmart, followed by (update) a full-size look at Alex Martines's mug shot.
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More from our News archive circa November 2013: "Denver cops ask: Which of these guns are real and which are fake?"