Shoppers on Perth’s King Street were left shocked and frightened after spotting a man roaming around with what appeared to be a dangerous assault rifle on Sunday afternoon.
But after police responded under emergency conditions, it appeared to be a case of mistaken identity — with it revealed the gunman was a male stripper on his way to work dressed as a sexy SWAT officer.
Police quickly confirmed the 31-year-old man was no real threat to the community and that his weapon was part of his adult entertainment work attire.
And it turned out he was committed to giving an authentic performance, as the weapon he was carrying was believed to be a gel blaster.
Gel blaster firearms are prohibited in WA.
A person caught in possession of a gel blaster can face maximum penalties of up to three years in prison or a $36,000 fine.
WA outlawed the weapons — which shoot water-filled gel pellets at 100m/second — in July last year following a rise of criminals smuggling the replica guns into the State and converting them into real ones.
At the time, Police Minister Paul Papalia said police were unable to tell the difference between gel blasters and real guns out on the street.
“It is a far too dangerous situation to tolerate any longer,” he said.
“When a police officer is responding to a call out, they will be assuming someone is in possession of a firearm.”
The surge of gel blasters became an issue for police who reported being confronted by the weapons almost 150 times in 2020.
The adult entertainer was taken into custody clad in his SWAT uniform and ballistic vest and the gel blaster was seized.
Police said the man was “assisting with the investigation” as the firearm undergoes an inspection to determine whether it is functional.
“The investigation into the functionality of the seized firearm and the circumstances surrounding it being carried in public is ongoing,” a WA Police spokesman said.
Even though police determined there was not a legitimate threat to the community, the force’s spokesman said it was an important reminder that there are consequences for flaunting realistic weapons in public and for owning prohibited weapons.
“The members of the public who called for police assistance had genuine concerns for their safety and the safety of others,” the spokesman said.
“The firearm in question looks very real and it would be very difficult for any member of the public to be able to determine whether it was in fact real or not.”