A student was shot at by a minor with a replica air-soft gun in front of her home two weeks ago.
Bobbie-Jean West, senior social work major from Austin, said she was leaving her house on E.N. 23 Street on Aug. 2, when she heard what she thought were real gunshots. When she turned toward the street, she saw the driver of a white Prius pointing what she thought was a handgun. West said the driver made eye contact with her before firing the air-soft gun five more times.
“I froze, and I’ve never experienced anything like that,” West said. “I was so scared.”
ACU Police Chief Jimmy Ellison said the weapon was a replica air-soft gun made to mimic a real firearm.
“This is precisely why ACU bans all air-soft or replica guns on campus, because these weapons are remarkably similar in appearance,” Ellison said. “To the uneducated eye, you can’t tell the difference, and certainly in a split-second decision a police officer can’t tell the difference and the consequences of that could be tragic.”
The plastic air-soft pellets did not hit West, and the shooter continued driving. Meanwhile, West’s roommate was standing at their front door during the incident and dialed 911.
“My mind was in shock but my body kept moving,” West said.
While on the phone with emergency services, West and her roommate followed the perpetrator in a truck. Ellison said the students did well to follow the vehicle because it helped Abilene police track and intercept the vehicle.
“The initiative to follow them, that’s a personal decision everybody has to make for themselves,” Ellison said. “Had that been a real firearm instead of a fake gun, you are conceivably placing yourself in ongoing danger. But that’s an individual decision. Had she not followed the vehicle, we likely would not have located the vehicle.”
Abilene police issued a citation for disorderly conduct to the shooter, a minor who told KTXS News he was just emptying his CO2 cartridge when he passed West’s house.
“None of it is funny,” West said. “They think it’s a joke, and it’s not.”
Abilene police responded to the call at 2:37 p.m., and ACU Police Department officers assisted because of the nature of the call, Ellison said. He said West and her roommate did well to report the situation and take immediate action.
“All too often here in the campus setting, we deal with incidents that occur that people either fail to report altogether or do a very delayed report, and that makes it very difficult for responding officers to work with,” Ellison said.
West said she’s glad the incident was not more serious, but she was terrified when it happened.
“The feeling of it being real,” West said. “I’ll remember that forever.”