Home NEWS Police/Fire Scary Moment On Moraga Hillside Triggered By Airsoft Gun Tuesday

Scary Moment On Moraga Hillside Triggered By Airsoft Gun Tuesday

Photo: Moraga PD

Lamorinda police – with a California Highway Patrol Helicopter orbiting overhead – searched a Moraga hillside above Ashbrook Place for a man with a gun Tuesday and found him – but the gun he was carrying turned out to be a realistic-looking Airsoft version.

Acting Police Chief Jon King said his department received a call of a man with a rifle on the hillside above Ashbrook at 1:13 p.m. Lamorinda police dispatched to the call observed two “college age” people on the hillside, one of them holding a gun. Both were detained at gunpoint and a close examination of the “rifle” – a bolt-action replica with scope and bipod – was made.

“The two subjects, one of whom lives in the area, were playing and shooting at targets on the hillside,” King said. “They had no idea of the potential implications of their actions.  They were counseled and released at the scene.”

On a day where many people are understandably edgy about people walking around with firearms, local police took a moment to remind owners of the dangers replica firearms can present. 

“In this case, an alert neighbor observed what was occurred and believed that the subject was holding a real gun as did the officers who detained the subjects at gunpoint.  If you have airsoft guns, please use caution in how and where you use them.  Please also be aware that while the person holding the airsoft gun knows that it isn’t a real firearm, others often think it is a real gun and react accordingly,” King said. 


  1. Those officers deserve congratulations for figuring out a way to deal with this without violence. Couldn’t have been easy.

    • Having been in similar situations ourselves – and left to wonder if what we were looking at was real or replica – we couldn’t agree more, Dean.

  2. Seriously? What the heck are you guys talking about? Like the cops are heroes for NOT pre-emptively shooting them?

    If the men weren’t otherwise suspicious/threatening, then a strong reaction is purely driven by cultural biases. Having a gun, by itself, is not considered “threatening” in 90%+ of the physical territory of our country.

    Obviously if you are carrying a real or fake firearm and are approached by a cop, you take extra care to NOT be perceived as a threat. This is not an unusual situation. Has no one here ever been “plinking” in the woods (with REAL guns) when a cop/ranger stops by to say hello? Everyone is paying close attention to avoid misunderstandings, but it is not a particularly tense situation (no more so than a traffic stop— and I’ll bet statistically safer for the cop as compared to a traffic stop).

  3. Unless the gun is pointing at another human being (or in hands of person refusing to obey orders from cops), no picture with a gun can be threatening to a rational observer.

  4. Can you see that orange tip from a way away? Up on it maybe but from a distance I would go with real rifle.

  5. If I’m on my suburban porch and I can see you on the hill behind my house with a scope rifle, I consider you armed and dangerous as it’s already clear you’re dense. I’m not assuming you’re smart enough and have the discipline not to aim my way, nor am I assuming its an air rifle. Any officer who deals with you successfully has done a good job in my book (they need to get close to see that tip)

    Out ‘in the woods’, so to speak, it’s a different story. I expect rangers not to find it odd if someone is armed. But Moraga? Please.

  6. Crazy that someone as clueless as this person actually made it to college. Rifle?? SCOPE??? In a residential area?? Come on — you’re asking for it.

  7. I find ALL guns a threat, whether they’re real or not. I don’t know anything about guns (lack of desire), and for those of you who are into guns… fantastic. You ARE considered armed and dangerous. Isn’t armed robbery (with a fake gun) still armed robbery? The bottom line is it COULD BE REAL. And the rest of us aren’t taking any chances, thank you.

  8. Moraga police were within shouting distance of a man who put a (real) gun to his head and pulled the trigger recently. It’s not much of a stretch to to think they may consider other guns they encounter to be just as real.

  9. A complete overreaction. Glad the cops didn’t murder these two guys. And I love how Chief King says they were “released” as if they were criminals or had done anything illegal. Was he planning to hold them hostage?

  10. Did “counseling” include a discussion about SB 199 and possibly retrofitting this Airsoft to meet its requirement or was “counseling” limited to placing all the blame on these kids and acting as if not releasing them was an option?

  11. Tom, the word “released” was completely appropriate. The two men were lawfully detained based on reasonable suspicion that a crime was taking place, was about to take place or did take place…and upon further investigation the two men were released. Your problem with the word makes no sense. They weren’t free to leave during their detention.

    Peanut gallery noise.

  12. Chris, who on here said anything about it being OK to shoot on sight for possibly possessing a firearm? No one. What’s the point of your question?

    And about orange safety tips…I don’t think most people realize that some criminals (smarter ones anyhow) are painting the tips of their firearms orange in order to make cops hesitate. Nothing you need to worry about though…continue pontificating from a position of safety.

  13. @Jack: if you neutrally parse many of the comments above, the clear implication is that they would be OK with use of deadly force based solely on the actions described– which notably do NOT amount to any actual or perceived imminent threat against cops or the public. Suspicious? Yes. Warranting use of force? No. That’s my point.

  14. Wander around with a scoped rifle behind peoples homes and be prepared to catch the hell you may catch. From a distance and to the naked eye it looks like a sniper rifle. If the helicopter had the equipment aboard I think it did they should have been able to see the plastic tip but it is not obvious and there are so many variables that may have limited identification — terrain, movement, cover. What was fun and cool and even permitted in 1955 has lost out to too many school shootings and sniper incidents to count. And although others scoff at the idea that cruising around with a scoped rifle on the SAME FREAKING day as terrorists kill 30more innocent people in Belgium is somehow ok I would have to ask what world you live in because it is apparently not grounded in reality.

  15. Sounds like the police handled it appropriately. I don’t understand why the neighbors couldn’t just walk out and talk to them. I had two 14-15 years old behind my house with a very similar gun, up on my hill. I asked them what they were up to and they were perfectly pleasant about it. Once they identified that it was an airsoft, they were nice enough to let me take a handful of shots myself. Great fun. Yes, I’d prefer they were done up in neon unless you are on a airsoft-specific course, but these things are utterly harmless.

  16. Jack, No crime was committed. So, of course, they were released. Again, the word implies there was some other option. It also makes the department seem overzealous, not a desirable quality in a police officer.

  17. Tom, I’m struggling to see how you’ve linked the usage of the word “released” with the department seeming overzealous…it makes no sense at all.

    When the police pull you over because you violated some vehicle code, you are lawfully detained. After they cite you or decide to just advise you, you are then released. Once you are detained you aren’t free to leave until you are released.

    How does the word “released” imply anything? You’re creating an issue or an argument where there is none.

  18. It looks like a real kill-people-at-a-distance in suburbia gun to me. Put a 1/2″ to 6 inch red bozo nose on it, and I might think, OK, this guy is confused, stand clear, and dial 911, get him some help before he hurts someone, but either way this guy is dangerous. Why else would this guy carry an apparent sniper weapon (scope with bipod footing) in a suburban neighborhood? If he is looking for turkeys, just drive fast on the approach to Lafayette reservoir and you are bound to hit them. If he is looking for attention, just fire a shot into a squad car at police hq. Why all the fuss? Are there no practice ranges?

  19. Why does anyone walk into a Starbucks with an assault rifle or even a shot gun in an open carry state? It is either narcissism or a political statement because the effect is to instill fear in the regular patrons. There is no threat from banditos, communistos, or turistos in your usual Starbucks. This notion of self-defense is run amok. It is nuts. It is a peril to coffee aficionados and the general citizenry. If you examine it carefully, I suspect you will find that chief among its adherents are angry white men.

  20. As an angry white man myself, I ask why can’t we all just get along? If you believe this is a democracy…why can’t you accept change based upon what the country is becoming? We incorporated the Scot-Irish, such as myself, for godsake, what could be harder than that? We were loathed! And I earned my pension, thank you very much.

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