When nine-year-old Cole Davis ducked under the canopy of a tall tree, he and his two friends expected to build a makeshift fort and imagine a make-believe world of action and intrigue.
None of the boys expected to be dragged into a very real case of hidden pistols and actual police officers.
That’s what happened when the trio unearthed three semi-automatic handguns, buried two inches under the dirt inside their fort.
“I find this thing, and I think it’s a cross for Christ, but then I look at it better and I think, ‘What the heck? It looks like a real gun,’” Davis recalled. “Then I was really freaked out.”
The boys ran to Davis’ dad, George, and brought him back to the tree just steps away from the family’s home near Strawberry Knoll Park. There, still in the dirt, was a Beretta handgun. “I was flabbergasted,” the elder Davis said. “I couldn’t believe it was buried here.”
Like the kids, his imagination ran wild about why the gun was buried, he called police and left the scene undisturbed.
“Seeing all those CSI episodes,
I thought maybe I shouldn’t get my fingerprints all over it.”
When officers arrived, the boys once again trekked into the forest to show where they found the gun. Using a garden trowel to check the surrounding dirt, police dug up two more weapons.
“They were very old and rusty, likely completely inoperable,” Saanich police Sgt. Dean Jantzen said. “They’d obviously been there for a lengthy period of time. There’s nothing overtly suspicious about it, other than it’s a gun buried in the ground.”
It’s been the talk of the Strawberry Vale neighbourhood since Victoria Day, when the guns were found, and a story the Grade 4 student is sharing with his classmates and teachers alike.
Jantzen said there’s definite concern over the fact that guns were buried and subsequently found by a child.
“It’s unusual to find firearms in this context, and it’s always a concern when a child comes into contact with a firearm in any situation, but this should not alarm the public, by any means,” he said.
Police are still trying to determine the history of the three weapons. They could’ve been buried for decades. “The next phase is trying to figure out makes, models, and serial numbers and work backwards from there,” Jantzen said.
The weapons are so rusted, police have not yet examined them, as there’s a concern there could be bullets in the chamber.
For the nine-year-old and his friends, however, they’ll continue to imagine scenarios that would lead someone to bury three handguns under a tree.
“I’m never going into that forest again,” the younger Davis said. “Maybe there was a robbery and those were the evidence. Or they’re from a mass murder. The guy might be coming back soon to get ’em.”