Teen shot, killed by off-duty guard while returning airsoft gun in Washington

Aaron Brown Myers of Washington has been charged with second-degree murder and assault in relation to the shooting death of a 17-year-old boy who was attempting to return an airsoft gun to a sporting goods store. Twiiter via @RentonpdWA

A 17-year-old in Washington was shot and killed by an off-duty security guard while he was attempting to return a faulty airsoft gun to a sporting goods store last week.

Aaron Brown Myers, 51, was arrested for fatally shooting the teenager outside a Big 5 Sporting Goods store at a strip mall in Renton, Wash. on June 5. Since the 17-year-old is a minor, his name has been redacted from court documents.

Myers told police he believed the teen was carrying a real gun and was about to rob the store, local station KOMO News reported.

The Renton Police Department said the boy was walking through the strip mall parking lot with two other teenagers. Myers told authorities he thought the teenager’s airsoft gun, a replica weapon that shoots non-metallic projectiles, was a Glock pistol.

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He said he did not have time to call 911 because he believed the teenage boys would hurt someone. Myers alleged they did not obey commands to stop and raise their hands. Both claims have been disputed by prosecutors in the case.

According to court filings obtained by KOMO, Myers used a handgun, a Glock 19, to shoot one of the teens seven times, once in the side and six times in the back.

Prosecutors argued the use of deadly force was uncalled for since the 17-year-old was facing away from Myers and could not have been considered a threat.

Myers has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree assault.

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Police said the off-duty security guard had no authority to patrol the strip mall. Regardless, Myers said he offered to keep watch of the location due to rising crime rates in the area.

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During court arguments to do with setting Myers’ bail, prosecutors said the man’s approach to dealing with the public and his self-imposed “duty to act” were public safety risks, the Seattle Times reported.

King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Lauren M. Burke called Myers “an untrained civilian who believes he has a duty to shoot people who have not hurt anyone.”

Myers was reportedly waiting in the parking lot for his child to finish a martial arts class near the sporting goods store.

The Seattle Times obtained the affidavit, which details security camera footage of the attack that contradicts Myers’ story told to police.

The affidavit maintains Myers quickly approached the teenagers with his gun drawn. One of the teenagers allegedly put an airsoft gun down onto the ground and raised his arms to show his empty hands. Myers then tackled the boy to the pavement.

As Myers is seen straddling the teenager in the footage, prosecutors said he turned his gun to another boy, who was backing away with his hands raised. Police said the 17-year-old had been carrying his own airsoft gun in his pocket.

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The Seattle Times reported the affidavit says the teen was shot as he seemingly turned his back to Myers in an attempt to run away. Myers told police he fired his weapon because the teen had been reaching for the waistband of his pants to retrieve what Myers thought was a gun.

The third teenager fled the scene, while the teen who was shot seven times died.

Police interviewed the two surviving teenagers, who told the authorities they were returning an airsoft gun at the sporting goods store. They said they shouted at Myers that they had “BB guns,” not real weapons, before the teen was shot.

The affidavit said the deceased teen was bringing his airsoft gun to the sporting goods store because he “wanted assistance with a magazine issue he was having with the firearm.”

The Renton Police Department said King County sheriff’s deputies were conducting training near the strip mall and heard the gunfire. They arrived at the scene quickly and administered first aid, but the teen died as a result of the gunshot wounds.

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Myers’ bail is currently set at US$2 million.

He is scheduled to be arraigned on June 24 in Kent, Wash.

In a statement to ABC News, a lawyer for Myers said his client and Myers’ family members are “devastated by this tragedy and the fact that it resulted in the loss of a young man’s life.”

“On the evening in question Mr. Myers sincerely believed that he was witnessing the beginning of an armed robbery,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, during the confrontation Mr. Myers became in fear for his own life and fired his duty weapon to defend himself.”

The investigation is ongoing. The Seattle Times reported this is not the first time Myers has attempted to intervene as a vigilante of sorts.

In 2022, Myers allegedly called 911 to report a man on a bike pointing a gun at people. He told police he followed the person through several stores, believing he may have to shoot the suspect himself. Responding officers discovered the person Myers was tailing was not carrying a gun, but rather a metal object akin to a bike part.

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