Church skit involving fake gun goes awry

Teens, adults call 911 because they thought incident was real

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— A church skit involving a fake gun went awry Wednesday night at Steamboat Christian Center leading youth and adults to duck under chairs and call 911.

Steamboat Springs police Capt. Det. Bob Del Valle said officers began receiving calls around 9 p.m. Wednesday from people who had witnessed or heard about the incident.

"Apparently the youth group was putting on a skit using an actor with a fake gun," he said. "Somehow the skit was overdone and the kids began hiding under chairs thinking the situation was real."

Del Valle said the gun that was used during the skit was a fake pistol, but that it looked real because of its color and shape. The tip of the gun was orange indicating it was not real, he said.

Jake Hothem, a youth pastor with the Steamboat Christian Church, said Wednesday's skit, which was designed to deliver a message about overcoming fear, got out of control and should have been stopped immediately.

"We would never desire to cause trauma to a teen ever," he said. "I sincerely apologize to anyone who felt traumatized by this."

Hothem said Steamboat Christian Center has a reputation for using "creative ministry" to reach its teens, and that the skit was one way to illustrate Wednesday's message.

The fake gun that was used during the skit was not supposed to be used as prominently as it was, he said.

"I really hope these people can forgive us," he said. "We feel so bad and will do whatever we can to make it better."

Del Valle said officers responded to the Steamboat Christian Center at 821 Dougherty Road to mediate the situation.

"I think the concern was, 'what if a person in the audience or a police officer had walked in and didn't realize the (skit) was fake?'" he said. "It could have been tragic."

Del Valle said church officials told officers they were "very sorry about what happened," and that they had used "bad judgment."

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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