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Real gun or airsoft? Winnipeg police say it’s becoming hard to tell them apart

Winnipeg police recovered the airsoft rifle pictured after a brief chase on Thursday. Winnipeg Police

Just hours after being released from police custody on Thursday, a Winnipeg man was arrested again after trying to flee police, allegedly armed with what later turned out to be an airsoft rifle.

At around 3:45 p.m., Winnipeg police received multiple reports of a man armed with a gun in the area of Ellice Avenue and Furby Street.

Responding officers ordered the suspect to keep his hands in the air but he refused and ran, according to Const. Rob Carver.

“As he’s running and his hands are in his sweater, out drops a carbine rifle,” Carver said.

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Officers nabbed the rifle and later arrested the suspect a few blocks away on Agnes Street.

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Police later determined the gun to be an airsoft rifle with an orange trigger.

“In the heat of a moment, there is no way you are going to be able to perceive that there is an orange element on that gun, which may or may not … make it an airsoft weapon,” Carver said.

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Replica, or modified firearms are becoming increasingly popular among criminals and pose a big threat, according to Carver.

In some cases, Carver said criminals have been able to modify airsoft guns to fire actual rifle rounds.

“So it could be an airsoft gun that could still kill you,” Carver said.

“The other thing is we know criminals have been taking real weapons and painting orange elements on them so that it may confuse officers momentarily.”

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The suspect in Thursday’s incident has been identified by police as 23-year-old Brent George Jones.

He had been released from police custody about two hours earlier, although Carver would not say what he was in custody for.

Jones has been charged with possessing a weapon and failing to comply with conditions of release.