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St. Louis Police Tweets ‘Kids Will Be Kids?’ in Post About Tamir Rice

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The St. Louis Police Department tweeted “Kids will be Kids?” Thursday morning in a post about the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was fatally shot by a police officer while playing with a toy gun, inciting backlash and explanation by the author of the post.

The tweet, which was deleted within hours of being posted, said, “Kids will be Kids? On November 22nd 2014, a Cleveland Police Officer shot 12 year old Tamir Rice who had his…” and then included a link to a St. Louis County Police City of Fenton Precinct Facebook post about Airsoft pistols.

The Facebook post, which has also since been deleted, contained advice for parents of children with toy guns, saying “Your children should have rules for ‘toy’ guns that mirror the rules of a real weapon… Warn them that these ‘toys’ do look like real guns and could result in the police getting called on them.”

People on Twitter reacted with horror to the original tweet.

The officer who wrote the post, Aaron Dilks, explained to Mediaite, “I too was a kid, and I too would have done the same thing as Tamir Rice did. I was allowed to go play with guns, and have BB guns — we didn’t have Airsofts at the time. The point of the ‘kids will be kids’ is that’s what kids will do…The point of putting [the post] out was to educate and make sure something like this doesn’t happen in the city of Fenton or in our area.”

About Rice’s death, Dilks said, “It’s a tragedy. It’s a shame that a child got shot. I guess that’s all I should probably say about it.”

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.Rogers@time.com