A Richmond mother is angry that her special needs son was sold an umbrella that looked so much like a rifle police confronted the young man with guns drawn.
Alana Grossman is not upset with the police - she believes they had no choice but to draw their weapons, because they believed her son had a real rifle - but can't understand why such items are sold in the first place.
"Someone called police, and rightfully so," said Alana Grossman, whose son, 21, was delivering newspapers on Nov. 16 on a Richmond street, on Thursday. "They showed up, pointed four guns at him, and asked him to put it on the bench. But he was at risk and could have been killed. They took it away and there were no charges.
"But I back the police 150 per cent," added Grossman, who was only told about the incident Wednesday night by her son. "They shouldn't take chances and they have to be as cautious as possible.
"But I need for people not to sell this stuff. My anger is with my son and those who sold it to him."
Grossman said she knew her son had bought the rifle umbrella a few months ago at the Richmond Mind Games store - which has since closed - but forbid him from taking it out of their house.
Nevertheless, he took it with him Nov. 16 while delivering papers and someone called Richmond RCMP, believing it was man on the street with a real gun.
"We received a report about a male with long-barrelled rifle over his shoulder," said Cpl. Sherrdean Turley, a media relations officer. "The appropriate action was taken and he (Grossman's son) was asked to step away. They found out it was an umbrella in the shape of a gun."
Turley agreed with Grossman that such items shouldn't be sold because they can be misidentified as real weapons. "It's really, really unfortunate that these items are being sold. If it looks like a weapon, (officers) have to take appropriate action."
She noted that it's not just umbrellas, and that even water pistols and pellet guns can resemble real weapons.
Meanwhile, Shery Varmo, manager of Mind Games in Metrotown, said about 40 to 50 of the rifle umbrellas were sold at their stores in a "one-time shipment" after customers requested them.
"I apologize for what happened," said Varmo of the Richmond incident involving one of their rifle umbrellas, which sold for about $20. "I've sent an email to our buying team. They said they will not order any more."
Varmo said that Grossman's is the only complaint he's received about the rifle umbrellas.
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