UPDATED: Elmhurst Police Respond in Full Force After Call for 'Shots Fired' on Fern Sunday Night

Neighbors uneasy as police arrive in back yard with weapons drawn.

Clarification 3:20 p.m. April 24:

The three individuals were cited under city ordinance for unlawful discharge of an air rifle. They were released on I-bond at the scene and will be notified of a court date.


Update 5 p.m. April 22:

John P. Pyznarski, 51, 7360 W. 108th St., Worth; Joseph Kniece, 29, 11407 Edinburgh, Huntley; and Joseph A. Zellman, 29, 959 Fern, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after police found them shooting air rifles at a target in the back yard of the home at 959 Fern at 7:31 p.m. April 21, according to a police report.

A 14-year-old boy who was with them was transported home, police said.

Police received a call for "shots fired—possible automatic weapon."


Original story: 5 a.m. April 22:

Elmhurst police swarmed a home on the 900 block of Fern after they received a call for "shots fired" at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21.

"As officers arrived, they heard the rapid fire of BB/pellet guns," Police Chief Michael Ruth said Sunday night via email. "Subsequent investigation revealed that three adults and one juvenile were discharging BB/pellet guns in the rear of 959 Fern."

A witness at the scene said three offenders were on the ground in handcuffs and "at least nine squad cars" responded, including a unit from Berkeley.

The suspects were charged with disorderly conduct, Ruth said. They were released on bond. Information released on Sunday night is preliminary, Ruth said.

Jon April 23, 2013 at 03:08 AM
I saw one of the cops take a military looking assault rifle and a bunch of handguns from these guys. They looked real to me. My neighbor who called the cops said it sounded like they were shooting a machine gun. He thought they were drunk. In these crazy times I am glad the cops did their job.
Witness April 23, 2013 at 03:56 AM
Gary Turner April 23, 2013 at 03:58 AM
They were pellet guns. Get real you idiot. Military guns my a--. Its impossible to shoot a pellet gun like an assault rifle. Your obviously one of those people that think you know it all and have no clue. Go back and hide in your home where your won't get hurt. The cops over reacted and made a mockery of some people who meant no harm.
Jan Lapointe April 23, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Why is a 14 year old boy hanging out with 3 grown men?
Witness April 23, 2013 at 04:00 AM
May I just say that Jamie you are a unintelligent human being.... When does airsoft ever look like a real gun??? Didnt u see the orange tip?? And it doesn't even sound like a real gun... A real goes boom!! Airsoft has a little engine and makes a click noise... Get a brain. The police had nothing better to do so they picked on that poor kid and his friends for shooting airsoft... I hope the police around proud of themselves... Humiliating that 14 year old boy for doing what he enjoys in a safe way.
Witness April 23, 2013 at 04:01 AM
A 14 can be friends with who ever he wants!!!! Who cares if there 14 or 30 or 60!!! It doesn't matter leave him alone
Jim Court April 23, 2013 at 04:12 AM
Although I remember shooting pellets guns as a kid and the idea of shooting cans was fun and often competitive. I do recognize that the times are radically different and many of these bb guns look like the real thing. I wonder if it would be wise to allow them but require neighbors to be informed and the police notified whenever they are being used, The simple way is to outlaw them. The more creative way is to do what I suggest. I will always fondly remember my brother, Dad , and Grandfather plinking away. Maybe it is somewhat of a guy thing.
5DecadesInElmhurs April 23, 2013 at 04:25 AM
Come on people, what did ya expect the cops to do? Send the intern down to Fern Avenue to establish if the weapon is a bona fide gun powder firing weapon, or simply a slingshot? Do you really think the local cops are going to get a weapon discharg call, and just walk in without taking precautions? As far as charges go, BB's and paintballs are specifically banned by local code. Thirty years ago, just a few blocks from present Fern Avenue, a teen shot a BB rifle in his own yard, but one of the projectiles hit the neighbors kitchen window. A grandmother was washing dishes there, and she got pretty scratched up. The teen was arrested. Also, I went to the air soft web site, and they do have some realistic looking replicas of firearms.
Elmhurst Resident April 23, 2013 at 11:49 AM
I live right there and there is no way it sounded like a real gun. The disgruntled neighbor doesn't like that this family may not be the cookie cutter snooty elmhurst family with their kids in tennis and soccer or playing video games. They actually get outdoors and do things. If someone isn't man enough to learn to shoot and shoot well don't assume that nobody else can. And it was obviously not a real gun!
Mike Worrell April 23, 2013 at 02:06 PM
The whole point of some of those guns is to look and behave like a real gun. They even have a recoiling slide. So I can't blame someone who isn't very familiar with guns for not knowing the difference. That said, the danger of pellet guns is rather minimal compared with archery equipment or slingshots. Everything is dangerous in the hands of a moron.
David R. April 23, 2013 at 02:12 PM
WRONG -- discharging a bb or pellet gun within the city is illegal. Read the code and educate yourself. If the police receive a call about a weapon being discharged, they respond accordingly. Did you not just see what happened in Boston -- an MIT officer was shot in his car for seemingly no reason. Do you blame them for erring on the side of caution?
David R. April 23, 2013 at 02:41 PM
To Gary and all the other angry people on here complaining about the police: what the individuals in question were doing is against the Elmhurst Code -- period. If you don't like it, then go tell the city council the Code should be changed, but don't blame the police for doing their job, which is to enforce the Code. If people want to discharge weapons on their property, there are plenty of places they can do it, just not here.
Leo April 23, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Hmm….bit my tongue long enough. No airsoft/pellet guns are not the crime of the century, but they can do damage to one’s property and there is a possibility, maybe a small one, that it could hurt someone. Those who are critical of this law, would you like it if a pellet came through your double pane front window or damage your vehicle? A little common sense here, this is a residential neighborhood, everyone lives close together and we should keep others in mind. Society appears to become a selfish entity and everyone is out for themselves. The caller could have been wrong and knew it was a pellet gun and that is “Shame on them”. And yes, most toy guns have the orange tip, but do you think they can be taken off and they may look like a real gun from 25 yards away. Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to walk up on someone holding a gun like this to find out it isn’t a toy gun. Yes, most likely 99% of Elmhurst residents are probably great people, but there is always that 1% that cause the most problems.
Leo April 23, 2013 at 02:48 PM
As far as the police response, they get dispatched to what the caller tells 911, they can’t say, hmmm, it is most likely a toy /air/pellet gun, they would take their time getting there. They respond to what information is given to them. How would you want the police to respond to your house if there was someone there with an actual gun, slow and only one police car? Then the police would be chastised for not responding with enough officers or in a timely manner. As I said before the police can’t win, they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. It seems to me that most people here complaining about this incident, have lost focus on the big picture, the community as a whole, or these complainers about “everything” don’t really have a life and have nothing better to do than complain.
David R. April 23, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Leo: you are exactly correct. Thank you.
Concerned April 23, 2013 at 03:38 PM
My son was in the woods, by himself, not around any residental homes etc shooting an airsoft gun and someone saw him and called the police. He was "taken" down to the ground like a criminal - handcuffed and arrested. So sad what this world has turned into.....
Karen Chadra (Editor) April 23, 2013 at 03:39 PM
A comment was removed for violating our terms of use.
Mia Highview April 23, 2013 at 04:17 PM
All I can say is thank god EPD didn't show up guns blazing and accidently kill someone for being in posession of a bb gun, then this would be actual news to report.
common sense April 23, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Leo; You are correct. The caller caused the issue with exaggerating the true issue. Real automatic gunfire is very loud about 150 db where an airsoft is about 90 db on the high side. Point of reference 90 db is about the same as a TV. The called wanted to get the people in trouble. Yes the police had to respond they way they did, now it is time to site the callers with disorderly conduct for not telling the truth and saying what they knew the police would have to show up as quickly as possible. The only thing the police did that was wrong was not working with the neighborhood and letting them know that this was a proper response to the call and there was not a deadly situation. They were shooting into their storage shed. That is a proper trap for airsoft and bb guns. No they are not allowed to do that even if it was a safe setup. Yes they are wrong. But put the real blame for the police reaction on the caller.
Ercie Berwick April 23, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Elmhurst Resident, my driving a car and a B/B rifle in the hands of an adolescent is a very poor analogy; there is no comparison. Of course it is possible for me to injure somebody during the course of my operating a death machine. However, I am an adult behind the wheel. What you have behind a B/B rifle is an immature, excitable, fun-loving adolescent who thinks the world is his oyster; not wet behind the ears yet, but you are willing to put a B/B gun in his hands. "I see," said the blind man.
Bill Sacky April 24, 2013 at 03:53 AM
Ercie, your comparison about an adult behind a wheel of a car, which can kill a person, to an adolescent with a pellet gun, which cannot kill a person is mind boggling to say the least. You can't be that idiotic. Sounds like you may be the adolescent here. Have a nice day.
Mia Highview April 24, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Ok the 14 year old I can understand but when did a 51 year old and two 29 year olds become adolescents? I think grown men of that age "should" be responsible enough to handle a bb gun without injuring anyone.
josh April 25, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Have they ever been careless enough that you think they are not aiming the bb guns in a safe direction? Have the neighbors ever gotten incoming errant shots, or riccochets? What is it that makes you think neighborhood kids are in danger from adults shooting BB guns in their own back yard. Maybe if they were shooting out your windows or causing damage to neighbors property then you'd have a case, of course then you could just sue them for property damage. From your comment I'm guessing you are just afraid of anything thatr looks like a big scary gun, maybe next week you'll call the cops because they are shooting their "automatic" slingshots now that they can't shoot the BB guns anymore. If I was these guys I'd be suing the cops for unlawful arrest, and abuse of power, ridiculous. Whoever called the cops should be charged with making a false report as well, just like the folks who waste police resources calling 911 complaining about slow service at McDonalds. Whoever the neighbor was is a moron, and a danger to the whole neighborhood.
josh April 25, 2013 at 07:40 PM
are you really this stupid, or is it just an act?
josh April 25, 2013 at 07:48 PM
The poice responded to a call reporting a possible automatic weapon being fired in the neighborhood, while they acted agressively it was within standards until the point where they stormed the back yard and put the residents on the ground in handcuffs. The first responding officer is well trained enough to know the sound of a BB gun from a real firearm, and this overt action should have been stopped right there. Having armed cops on edge storming the backyard is just asking for an accidental shooting by cop of the residents, and a high possibility of REAL danger to the neighborhood. The neighbor who called in should be arrested for filing a false report, and assault with a deadly weapon (via the police), and be publicly mocked for overt stupidity.
josh April 25, 2013 at 07:49 PM
sounds like your taxes are too high to pay for far to many cops to react in this manner.
josh April 25, 2013 at 07:51 PM
Family members?
josh April 25, 2013 at 07:52 PM
exactly, I'm 28 and I hang out with my 50+ year old neighbor, is something wrong with that?
josh April 25, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Times are NOT different, people are just stupider, and the police vastly over militarized. These airsoft guns do NOT look like real rifles, they specifically have bright orange compponents so they they absolutely won't be confused with the real thing.
josh April 25, 2013 at 07:56 PM
I don't blame the cops for rolling a bunch of cars, I blame them for overreacting once they arrived. Any moron can easily tell the difference in sound between an airsoft/BB gun and a gunpowder projecttile rifle.


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