The man fatally shot by police on Tuesday in Morris Township was brandishing an “airsoft” pistol that resembled a Beretta firearm, the state Attorney General’s Office said on Wednesday.
Timothy O’Shea, 24, died at 5:41 pm at Morristown Medical Center, according to a statement from authorities.
Police from Morris Township, Morris Plains and Morristown had responded to a 911 call at 4:14 pm reporting a domestic disturbance on Fairchild Avenue. The caller said a person at the residence had cut himself and had a gun.
“Uniformed officers of the three police departments responded to the residence on Fairchild Avenue where Timothy O’Shea lived. Upon arrival, officers encountered the 911 caller and took that person into safety.
“Shortly after, at approximately 4:19 p.m., officers encountered Timothy O’Shea, who was holding a pistol and bleeding. During the encounter, one officer fired his weapon, striking Mr. O’Shea,” the statement said.
Police rendered medical aid until EMS personnel arrived to transport him to the hospital. The pistol that was in O’Shea’s hand was a replica Beretta 9mm airsoft pistol, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Replica airsoft pistols resemble the real thing, but they fire plastic projectiles. Airsoft weapons use a gas propellant and are similar to BB guns, but their less-harmful ammunition has made them popular for target practice, war games, and police- and military training.
By federal law, imitations of real guns are required to have orange-colored plugs on their barrels to set them apart. It was not immediately clear if this weapon had such a marking.
The statement also did not say which officer, from which police department, shot O’Shea. Knowledgeable sources have told Morristown Green the officer was from Morris Plains.
Morris Plains Police Chief Michael Koroski said he was not at liberty to discuss the case.
“It was a very tragic event. We’re doing everything we’re required to do, and are cooperating with their investigation,” the chief told Morristown Green.
O’Shea was the son of a retired Morris Township police lieutenant.
The matter continues to be investigated by the Integrity Bureau within the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, which investigates all fatal encounters involving police.
This story has been updated with information about airsoft pistols.