NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly firing a lifelike weapon and handing it over to his toddler-age son.
The man’s family, however, called it all an overreaction to toy guns.
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, Jack Pawlowski was led out of his Queens home in handcuffs Wednesday, with his stunned wife and three young kids looking on. He said nothing as detectives put him into a squad car.
But earlier, he allowed CBS 2 up to the family’s apartment to get a video of what he calls the harmless “kids’ toys” that started it all.
Pawlowski told CBS 2 he took a toy gun, and two of his kids, around the corner to Ditmars Park. It was around noon and packed with kids and their parents.
It appears some in the park thought the guns were real at first.
“At first I thought I was hallucinating,” said Maria Smilios of Astoria. “He pulled out this gun.”
Smilios saw the toy up close, and at first thought it was the real thing. She gave CBS 2 a cellphone photo she said shows Pawlowski firing pellets at a tree.
“The next thing, he took his son, who is 3, and showed him how to use it, and then the family took turns shooting the gun. He gave it to his daughter, who took off on the bicycle and started racing around the park with the gun pointing this way and just started pointing it at the kids,” Smilios said.
Another mom who was on a playground at the park at the time said she walked up to Pawlowski, and told him to take the toy gun and his kids and leave.
“I don’t tend to take things lying down, so I went past the parents, and so I walked straight over and I confronted him,” said Leni Calas. “I mean, he’s brandishing a firearm and I don’t care if that firearm is plastic. That’s unacceptable.”
Calas called police, who arrived after Pawlowski left. She also called City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-22nd) and posted the photo on her “queensmamas” website.
That led to a tip that led investigators straight to Pawlowski’s door.
“This is really a way to educate people,” Vallone said. “You cannot run around with a realistic looking gun. It’s against the law, and you could get arrested and actually go to jail.”
“I hope in the end, he understands at least somewhat why people became angry that he came here with this gun,” Calas said.
Pawlowski’s wife did not share that perspective.
“I feel a little bit like a victim because someone overreacted,” she said.
She did not want her face on camera, but told CBS 2 her husband is sorry and it will never happen again.
He remained in custody Wednesday evening, on charges of reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a minor, resisting arrest, and possession of an illegal BB gun.
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