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Bountiful mother says 'exaggerated' police report prompted ambush over toy gun

(Ray Boone/KSL-TV)

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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BOUNTIFUL — A mother is outraged after she said an "exaggerated" call to police prompted her family to be ambushed by officers, all over a toy gun.

Janelle Woolley said she was driving Friday on 3100 South near the border of Woods Cross and Bountiful with her 17-, 14- and 9-year-old children on the way to Park City for a soccer game when suddenly her family was pulled over and surrounded by multiple officers.

"(They) came out of their cars, drew weapons, assault rifles on myself and my children," Woolley said, filled with confusion and fear. "What in the world? 'They've got us confused with someone they're looking for who's driving a car like ours,' that was my first thought."

Her family was overcome with panic while handcuffed and detained for more than an hour, Woolley said.

She soon discovered why this was happening.

"We received a call from an off-duty police officer who saw someone sticking a handgun out the side of a vehicle and pointing it at homes driving down a major road in Bountiful," said Lt. Dave Edwards of the Bountiful City Police Department. He said the officers treated the call as "high risk."

Edwards said an off-duty West Valley City officer made the call about the gun.

"The West Valley police officer reported that my son was waving it outside of the car, pointing it at homes and pointing it at people. That is untrue; it's grossly exaggerated to the point of being false," Woolley said, explaining the report made to Bountiful police prompted a "traumatic" experience for her and her children.

Woolley said her 17-year-old son was merely "twirling" the "dollar store" toy gun around his finger inside the car while he played a hand-held video game in the other hand. She said she believes that is not a crime.

We received a call from an off-duty police officer who saw someone sticking a handgun out the side of a vehicle and pointing it at homes driving down a major road in Bountiful.

–Lt. Dave Edwards, Bountiful City PD

Edwards said what her son did was in fact against the law. "Waving a gun out the window created such public concern that it is criminal."

Edwards said the officers' heavy response was part of their police training. "We would do the same again in order to ensure that everyone is safe at the end of the day."

Edwards said Woolley's juvenile son could face disorderly conduct charges, and the case has been sent to the county prosecutor's office for review.

Woolley isn't safisfied with how the initial call was handled by the police on the scene and said she would like to have a discussion with the Bountiful police chief about the incident.

Edwards said he could arrange the meeting with the chief for Woolley.

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