On Jan. 3 at about 2:45 p.m., the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) received a call of a man with a gun walking in the middle of 5700 Rutgers Road in La Jolla. The caller indicated that the subject was a white male in his 20s wearing dark clothing.
Northern Division patrol officers responded, along with the SDPD helicopter (ABLE). The ABLE crew began to record the incident on video and spotted the suspect on Copa de Oro Drive. A few moments later, the caller reported that there was another armed male with a similar description in the area, as well. One of the suspects ran and hid in front of a house while the other tried to leave the area. The second male was stopped by officers and taken into custody without incident.
The ABLE tactical flight officer (TFO) kept the first male in sight while additional officers responded. As the first male began to exit toward the street, an officer took him into custody without incident, as well.
The two individuals turned out to be juveniles carrying replica guns. They were detained until it was determined that no crime had taken place.
In a press release the SDPD mentions, toy guns that are replicas of real guns and shoot plastic BBs are available for purchase; several models cost fewer than $15. Although many replica guns are made of clear plastic in order to be easily distinguishable, some are black and very difficult to tell apart from a real gun. It is against California law to carry a replica gun in public (12556 PC) unless they are easily recognizable as replicas.
The SDPD wants the public to know that it is never advisable for any individual to carry replica guns in public because they can be confused with a real gun. In this case, both the citizen and the officers believed that these individuals were carrying real guns.