The actual model of Lego gun purchased by Jeremy Bell. Image courtesy of BrickGun.
Jeremy Bell bought a Lego replica of a semi-automatic pistol and assembled it, yesterday, in the back office of teehan+lax, a downtown user-experience design firm, where he’s a partner. An hour later, he was up against the stairwell wall, being frisked by police on suspicion of weapons possession.
Admittedly, the gun, purchased from BrickGun, an online retailer that specializes in Lego replicas of firearms, looked pretty realistic. Bell thinks someone living in one of the apartments with windows facing teehan+lax’s building, at 460 Richmond Street West, might have called in the tip after seeing him wave around the suspicious chunk of plastic from a distance.
“I understand why,” he said. “It looks legit. You see a guy in an office with the door closed, putting something together, it looks like a gun. I get it.”
Constable Tony Vella of the Toronto Police Service later confirmed to CTV that this was precisely the case. “We have to take all the gun calls seriously because we don’t know what we’re getting involved in,” he told them.
The way Bell told the story, both to us over the phone and on his blog, he’d just received the Lego gun kit in the mail on Wednesday and had brought it to work. It sat in its box until the end of the day, at which point he opened it up.
“I decided to put it together,” he wrote on his blog earlier today. “I literally assembled it, handed it to a co-worker (who promptly broke it), and then put it back in the box.”
Jeremy Bell, the “culprit.”
Then, he went to go unwind with some colleagues over a game of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
“So we’re sitting there just playing some games,” he said, “and probably like an hour or two later, around seven o’clock or so, I could hear screaming in the elevator.” He took off his headphones and went to investigate.
“I’m thinking it’s some kind of domestic dispute outside, until I heard my own name. And then it’s like: oh shit, that’s not good.”
Bell describes what happened next on his blog:
“I sheepishly opened the door to see what was going on, only to discover a SWAT member crouched in the stairwell yelling at me and another directing a small mirror into the hall. The guy in the door had a weapon with a flashlight pointed at me, so I couldn’t really see what was going on, but I was instructed to put my hands on my head and turn around. With my hands up, I had to lift my shirt and slowly spin around. Once they confirmed I wasn’t packing any Lego heat, I walked backwards towards them, was then cuffed, pulled into the stairwell and thrown against the wall.”
Another witness, who claims to work for a different company with offices in the building (but supplies no further information about himself), describes the scene outside the building on his personal blog: “Five cop cars in total. Two ambulances. And a dozen cops all taking positions of cover in downtown Toronto. A drug deal? An explosive? Hmmm.”
Jeffrey Remedios, president and co-founder of the indie record label Arts & Crafts, also located in the building, tweeted the following to Bell earlier today: “@jeremybell – hey lego gun: we’re in the office above you. SWAT tried to take down my co-worker last night as he left the building!”
If this all seems a little senseless, rest assured that Bell agrees. “I’m a sucker for Lego and when I saw that thing I was like, ‘That thing’s pretty cool,'” he said. “That, unfortunately, is how shallow it was.”
Thanks to reader Ren Bostelaar for the tip.
Photo of Jeremy Bell courtesy of his own online bio.