Film students shooting a fake robbery narrowly escaped a very tragic ending when police burst in and nearly opened fire.
Police nearly opened fire on film students shooting a fake robbery scene. (Image source: KTLA-TV)
The students were using fake guns to shoot a robbery scene in a suburban Los Angeles coffee shop Thursday morning when an alarmed bystander thought it was the real thing and called 911, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Police arrived to find one man holding what looked like an AR-15 and another one carrying what looked like a handgun. Both were wearing hooded sweatshirts and masks.
Glendora police Capt. Tim Staab told the Times the man with the rifle dropped his weapon immediately, but the man with the handgun hesitated.
"He was dumbfounded," Staab said.
Police audio obtained by KTLA-TV reveals an officer shouting, "Drop the gun!...Drop it, drop it, drop it."
"One of the officers made the decision that had the man moved, he would have been killed," Staab said. "It was just milliseconds from a tragedy."
In the audio, the officer commands: "Get on the ground right now. What are you guys doing? You're shooting a short film? In a store with a man with a gun?"
Staab told KTLA the officer waited "one split second" that made every difference in averting a potentially deadly scene and then "disarmed" the man by knocking the gun to the ground.
The students were using realistic Airsoft guns to film, but had removed the orange markings to indicate they were replicas, police told the station.
“The looked extremely real. I picked them up afterwards, and they were heavy like real weapons, but they were simulated," Stabb said.
According to KTLA, the crew got permission from the coffee shop manager to film, but did not obtain a permit from the city or inform the police department they would be shooting.
"I can't think of a situation more dangerous than having a gun in your hand with cops responding," Staab said. "It was much closer than we ever want to get close to."
The students were allowed to keep their weapons and, after a lecture from officers, were allowed to go on their way without facing any charges.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.