Traverse City Police Concerned After High School Game Involves Fake Guns

“Obviously the officers are going to treat it as a true threat until they know otherwise,” says Traverse City Police Captain Keith Gillis.

Concern from police as a popular high school game is being taken to serious levels.

High school students in the Traverse City area have played “Assassins” for years.

But Monday night, police had to get involved.

9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson talked to police about the serious situation.

High schools says Assassins is played every year.

You make up teams and drive around trying to eliminate an opposing team’s players by using toys like Nerf guns.

But Monday night, the game causes some major concern for police and those living near Central High School.

“I really don’t want to see anybody get hurt because some kids were trying to have fun,” says Capt. Gillis.

A high school game Monday night had Traverse City police, the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office and Michigan State Police getting involved.

“We got a suspicious call in reference to some individuals possibly with firearms near Traverse City Central High School,” says Capt. Gillis.

High school students say you’re supposed to use toy guns to play.

“I got this blow gun. Got it for like four bucks at Home Depot,” says Austin Wieland, a local high school senior. “Shoots better than any Nerf gun you can find and it’s a lot cheaper too.”

But Monday night, students changed the appearance of their Nerf guns, prompting police response.

“They’re going to treat it as a real situation until we know otherwise and that’s the biggest concern,” Capt. Gillis says.

When the Nerf guns still look like toys, police say there’s no problem. It’s when students bring in things spray paint to make the guns look real. That changes the game from being fun to serious.

“This isn’t unique to any one school,” says Christine Guitar, marking and communications director for Traverse City Area Public Schools. “It’s involves all kinds of students from schools across the region. We really need to ensure that they know there are consequences and what is and what is not inappropriate.”

Monday night’s situation involved students from multiple local schools.

No one was hurt or arrested.

Police are sending a full report to the prosecutor’s office for review.