In Berkeley over the weekend, police officers responding to reports of a man firing a handgun in a backyard off of Shattuck Ave ended up killing a pit bull in a tragic miscommunication. Arriving on the scene where dog owner Shay ben Yishay and three others had been engaging in target practice with a pellet gun, BPD asked the men to exit the house thinking the weapon was a semiautomatic handgun. While the men complied, the pit bull named Rock also got out, but was unresponsive to Yishay's commands. When Yishay asked if he could put the dog on a leash, his request was denied because officers were concerned someone in the home might still be armed. According to a BPD statement on Berkeleyside, the dog, "growled and lunged at one of the officers causing that officer to fear for his safety. This officer fired one round from his pistol at the dog and it died instantly."
The residents of the home admitted to shooting off rubber pellets in their backyard - a violation of the Berkeley Municipal Code which they had been told was legal when they purchased the Airsoft pistol at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store. Airsoft pistols are known for their resemblance to actual, deadly weapons, which seems to have caused most of the confusion.