SAN RAMON – Police are asking parents to discuss “gun safety” with their kids after a group of juveniles frightened a San Ramon resident, prompting her to call police to report a masked gunman roaming her neighborhood.
At 8:33 pm on Thursday, September 29th, police say they responded to a report of a masked gunman dressed in all black, wearing a helmet and a ski mask near South Blackbrush Lane.
The concerned neighbor reported that the subject, who reportedly looked like an adult, was holding a “big gun” while sitting on a curb and looking at a cell phone.
On the newly released recording of the 911 call, the woman can be heard whispering to the dispatcher as she described the man’s appearance and actions.
At one point, the caller seems to put down the phone to bring her kids and husband away from the front door as the masked gunman begins to move.
Police asked paramedics to stage nearby as a precautionary measure and requested that a helicopter respond from a nearby agency, should officers need to search for a suspect.
While officers were responding to the address, they were told by their dispatcher that they had a report that individual appeared to be a juvenile that was part of a group playing a game with fake guns.
As they began their approach on foot, police were also notified by a passerby that there were kids in the neighborhood playing with airsoft rifles.
Officers made contact with the subject hiding in the bushes near the reported location. Police say the juvenile followed the officer’s commands and came out of the bushes unarmed.
According to police, officers quickly determined the group of juveniles, ranging in age from 12 to 14 years old, were in fact playing games with airsoft rifles.
None of the guns involved were marked with orange tips, a common practice to indicate a weapon is a toy replica.
Authorities say this incident is the second incident they have responded to in recent weeks involving airsoft guns.
Police expressed concern that airsoft guns appear too similar to their real counterparts, “it is almost impossible to differentiate between some of these air-soft replicas and a real gun without physically holding or inspecting the weapon.”
In a post on their Facebook page, San Ramon Police asked their followers to play the role of a police officer and observe a photo, which shows many realistic-looking firearms.
The post asks citizens to put themselves in an officer’s shoes who was encountered with one of the weapons, “if you were on patrol and someone pointed one of the weapons pictured below directly at you, at a loved one, or at anyone, what would you do?”
San Ramon Police say they want to educate people about how realistic replica airsoft guns look and encourage parents to talk with their kids about the importance of listening and obeying instructions from an officer.
They also say the juveniles involved in the incident are not being charged with a crime.