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Replica gun near Valencia High School prompts swift response

Posted: May 20, 2014 1:31 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2014 1:31 p.m.

A man and woman detained briefly near Valencia High School show the two replica guns that were in their car when it was stopped by Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies on Tuesday.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies detained a young couple at gunpoint near Valencia High School Tuesday morning in response to reports they were seen shooting at signs from their moving car, a lieutenant said.

Deputies released the 20-year-old driver and the passenger, his 18-year-old girlfriend unconditionally, without incident and without charges being filed when they found the couple in possession of a pink-and-black toy gun fitted with an orange tip.

At 11 a.m., deputies in six black-and-white sheriff’s vehicles stopped the black Volkswagen hatchback in the parking lot of the Carl’s Jr. restaurant on Dickason Drive, Lt. Mark Hershey said.  

“They were stopped and detained,” he said. “Deputies found an Airsoft (replica) gun.

“The big concern for us was that this all happened near two schools,” he said. “Also this was 45 minutes before lunch, so the restaurants were probably very crowded.

“And, of course, the fear was that it could be like the (Saturday incident) with the BB gun,” Hershey said, referring to an alleged weekend road rage incident in which a 22-year-old woman suffered a serious eye injury from a BB gun pellet.

A 28-year-old Valencia man was arrested on Monday in connection with that alleged road rage incident.

Tuesday’s incident began when deputies received reports from an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer that a car occupant was shooting at signs from a moving car, he said.

They began following the couple westbound on Decoro Drive, south on Copper Hill Drive, east on Smyth Drive and onto Dickason Drive where they stopped the suspect car south of Valencia High School and across from Legacy Christian Academy.

The experience proved to be a stressful one for the detained couple, said the young man and woman who were stopped.

“They didn’t need to conduct as big a response as they did,” said the driver, who did not want to be identified.

“They started following us and then, all of sudden, there’s a bunch of cop cars around us,” he said. “They were yelling ‘Turn off the engine’ and ‘Put your hands out’

The young woman said she put her arms through the car’s open sun roof.

“I said ‘What am I being pulled over for?’ and she wouldn’t give me an answer,” the driver said. “She (the deputy) comes up and finds a pink Airsoft gun in the front seat.”

When deputies searched the car they also found a replica handgun in the rear compartment of the hatchback. That replica, however, had no distinguishing orange tip at the end of its barrel.

“The (deputy) asked me ‘What’s the difference between this gun and my gun?,’” the driver said.

The deputies’ response should send a clear message to those with replica or toy guns, Hershey said: “You don’t go messing around with guns, especially near a school.”
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt


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