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Anniston officers fatally shoot man armed with airsoft gun

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Anniston police respond to a shooting involving two officers and a man armed with an airsoft gun. Source: WBRC video Anniston police respond to a shooting involving two officers and a man armed with an airsoft gun. Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
The shooting happened near Net Street and Twine Street in Anniston's Blue Mountain community. Source: WBRC video The shooting happened near Net Street and Twine Street in Anniston's Blue Mountain community. Source: WBRC video
ANNISTON, AL (WBRC) -

Anniston police officers fatally shot a man who refused to drop his weapon, which later turned out to be an airsoft gun, on Tuesday morning.

A caller who identified himself as "Frank" called 911 around 9:30 a.m. to report a "male walking round the area of Net Street and Twine Street with a firearm," the police department said in a release.

Two officers responded to the area in the Blue Mountain community and saw a white male holding a weapon.

Police Captain Allen George says the officers gave "multiple commands" for the man to drop his weapon, but he refused.

"He told him multiple times to put his gun down, put his gun down, put his gun down. I counted multiple times that he did that. And it got to the point of pleading with him for a second," Anniston Police Chief Shane Denham said at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Denham confirmed the man's identity as Frank Charles Johnston, 53.

"Not only did he refuse to drop the weapon, he raised the weapon and took up a shooting stance, and pointed it at the officers," the police chief added.

Both of the officers fired shots on Johnston. Police haven't said how many shots were fired, but a neighbor said he heard five shots.

The Calhoun County Coroner's Office pronounced Johnston dead on the scene. The coroner's van was seen leaving the area around 11 a.m. with its lights flashing.

Investigators later discovered that the man's weapon was an airsoft-type gun designed to look like an Airsoft 1911 pistol.

"You couldn't tell that it was not a real weapon. So for the officers, it was a real weapon. They were in fear for their lives and they responded appropriately," Chief Denham said.

The police chief said any loss of life is a tragedy.

"My heart goes out to my officers. Right now they're going through the administrative process, as far as drug screens, and we're trying to set up some counseling for them. It's not an easy thing to take a life. It's something we train for that we hope we never have to do," Denham said.

He said his heart also goes out to Johnston's friends and family.

"The guy who had the gun, he also has friends, family, that loved him, and it's a tragedy for them also and my heart goes out to that family," he said.

The case is under investigation by the Anniston Police Department Crime Lab, Investigations Division and the Jacksonville State University Center for Applied Forensics.

Police say they will release further information, if warranted, once the investigation is complete.

The Anniston Police Department posted the following message on their Facebook page, along with an image of their press release about this incident:

"Any loss of life is tragic. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our Officers as well as to the family and friends of the subject."

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