A hand gun replica that looked too much like the real thing led to Manteca Police handcuffing a 24-year-old man on South Main Street shortly before noon on Tuesday.
A motorist called 911 to tell police she saw a man walking southbound on Main Street noting that when he straightened his clothing she could see what appeared to be the top half of a black handgun tucked into his waistband.
Officer Mike Kelly was first on the scene. He found the man in a convenience store at the southwest corner of Wetmore Avenue and South Main Street. Kelly walked into the store and found the suspect shopping, telling him to put his hands behind his neck as he took him into custody, according to Sgt. Joe Aguilar. He was handcuffed without incident.
Other patrol officers arrived and filled the parking lot in front of the store as the man was led outside and placed sitting down on the sidewalk entrance to the store. A replica Smith & Wesson 227 revolver was taken from him and examined by the patrolmen before the suspect was interviewed as to why he was carrying the non-lethal weapon.
He told officers he was afraid of being jumped while walking in the community and thought the gun would ward off gang members.
One officer emphatically told the man that he was asking to get killed if he drew the gun on anyone who thought it was the real thing, whether it was an officer or an aggressive guy on the street looking for trouble. The man was urged to surrender the gun to police or to take it home – but not to carry it on his person for his own safety.
He chose to keep it in his possession, police said. It turned out to be a CO2 powered piece without a required orange tip on the barrel, so it could be easily recognized as a non-lethal weapon. Researching it online, it was found to sell for $85, much less than the real thing at $1,200.
A 13-year-old Santa Rosa teen was shot and killed on Oct. 29 of last year by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy that deemed the youth was an immediate threat with what turned out to be an authentic looking plastic AK-47 assault rifle. The 48-year-old deputy was a veteran of 10 years in the military and had been on the force for 24 years – 19 as a police range master.
The officer reportedly was working as a field-training officer with a new recruit with 11 years of law enforcement experience when they spotted the boy wearing a “hoodie” sweatshirt and walking with what turned out to be an air gun in a blue collar neighborhood, officials said.
When one of the deputies ordered the youth to drop the gun from behind the open doors of their patrol car, he allegedly raised the barrel toward the officers, and the senior officer fired at the youth hitting him twice.
In the case of the fake gun in Manteca, Sgt. Joe Aguilar said that Manteca Police have only a handful of such cases during the average year often requiring them to make a split second decision on whether they need to protect themselves.