Police use rubber bullet to stop man who fired starter gun on street

  • 2024-02-20
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Police had to fire a rubber bullet to detain a 62-year-old man who had fired a shot from a starter pistol on a street in the northeastern city of Johvi on Sunday afternoon.

Police responded with large forces to the event in Johvi at 5 p.m., where a 62-year-old man had fired a shot from a gun-like item on the street,  spokespeople for the police told BNS. Officers sealed off the perimeter and entered the territory where the man might be staying. As officers were entering the courtyard, several shots from a gun could be heard and the man started moving towards officers with a gun in his hand.

Andreas Kliimant, the head of the Johvi police station, said the officers repeatedly ordered the man to put down the gun.

After the suspect had dropped the gun on the ground and got down on his knees, he immediately tried to reach for the weapon again. The situation was very dangerous and police officers have the right to use a service weapon in this case to ward off the threat, Kliimant said.

One of the officers fired a shot at the suspect using an auxiliary weapon armed with rubber bullets. The suspect then threw the gun further away and was detained by officers.  

The police established that the gun was a starter pistol. During a search of the man's home, other weapons-like objects, an object resembling a hand grenade and possible detonators were found. Whether or not the found items are prohibited items under the Weapons Act will be determined in the course of the investigation.

Kliimant said in the press release that starter pistols are confusingly similar to firearms and it is not possible to distinguish between them visually or by the sound of the shot. 

"This means that in such cases, police officers always assume that it is a firearm and therefore any such event is a very high-risk event," he said.

"In such situations, officers are allowed to use firearms to ward off the danger. Rapid response teams are also equipped with pump-action guns armed with rubber bullets, which cause pain when they hit a person but are not life-threatening like firearm rounds. Fortunately, this time we were able to apprehend the suspect without anyone getting hurt. Unfortunately, the situation may not end so well next time," the officer added.

An investigation has been opened based on the section of the Penal Code dealing with aggravated breach of public order.