Last month, a South Carolina man named David Joseph Dalesandro robbed a Kwik Stop convenience store using a fake gun from the 1984 Nintendo game Duck Hunt. According to the York County Sheriff’s Office, Dalesandro entered the store donning a mask, wig, and hoodie, flashing the faux pistol at the cashier and demanding money.
What Exactly Is a Duck Hunt Gun?
Released in Japan in 1984 and the US in 1985, the Nintendo game Duck Hunt came with a pistol-style controller, dubbed the “NES Zapper.” It used an optical sensor that allowed players to shoot down animated ducks that appeared on screen.
Dalesandro spray-painted the controller black to be more reminiscent of an actual gun.
How Was Dalesandro Caught?
Deputies: York Co. man robbed store with ‘Duck Hunt’ pistol. https://t.co/nX7mXkxz3B— ELLIOT IN THE MORNING (@EITMonline) June 1, 2023
Not long after the robbery, police found Dalesandro down the street from the Kwik Stop, meandering within a Dollar General parking lot, Duck Hunt gun still in his pants. According to online records, he remains in custody.
Using Fake Weapons Is a Common Robbery Method
Despite it being relatively easy to access guns in the US, many robbers use fake firearms to commit their crimes, as many assume that doing so can possibly equate to a lighter sentence (if the robber is caught).
Take for example, Joseph Booker, another South Carolina resident. In 2020, Booker entered a Family Dollar store armed with a toy gun. He demanded that the clerk empty the register into the shopping bag. Booker made off with nearly $500.
Police quickly spotted him in his vehicle and a chase ensued, resulting in him ditching his car and attempting to outrun the police on foot: a failed endeavor, as he was quickly arrested.
Does Using a Toy Gun Actually Equal a Lighter Sentence
According to Franklin County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Matt Fogal, “If a gun is used as a tool to threaten someone or effectuate a crime like robbery, it does not matter whether it is a BB gun or an actual firearm. The key is whether it was used in such a manner to appear to be a deadly weapon from the victim’s perspective.”
Whether or not a criminal’s gun is a toy does not matter much to police either, as they can usually not determine its authenticity until they are handling it.
“The problem is that we (the police) cannot tell right off the bat if the guns are fake,” says Chambersburg, PA Police Chief Ron Camacho. “Many times we can’t tell until we physically handle the weapon. So this is a very dangerous situation, one in which too much hesitation can get the officer shot.”