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​Portola Valley: Kids with airsoft gun mistaken for armed suspect

Original post made on Jun 23, 2014

Deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office are wrapping up an investigation into a report that a man was seen with a "long gun" near Ormondale Elementary School on Shawnee Pass in Portola Valley this afternoon.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 23, 2014, 5:35 PM

Comments (22)

Posted by parent, a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Is a description of the man or his car available?

Posted by Chris Bay, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jun 24, 2014 at 6:05 am

So what! I used my BB gun, .22 and pellet gun all over PV when I was a kid. PV is so full of city slickers. So sad.

Posted by TheWalker, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jun 24, 2014 at 10:44 am

I was walking by the school as the cops were loading their shot guns. They already had a kid in custody in the back of the police car and were looking for the other kids. No doubt the teen kid in custody told them it was an airsoft gun but I guess the police felt a need to totally arm themselves. Note that the school was totally empty - not a kid or adult anywhere.

For those not aware, an airsoft gun "shoots" a plastic BB about 30-40 yards max and many kids in PV have airsoft wars in backyards and open fields.

I appreciate our San Mateo County sheriffs and realize that they have a hard and dangerous job but it scares me when I see them loading shotguns in our neighborhood - especially given the context.

Posted by You're kidding, right??, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Chris, where have you been? Why wouldn't you think, with all the incidents with kids and guns - particularly near schools - residents and local officials might be a bit unnerved at the sight of a gun that appears quite real? And in this day and age, why would kids who should know betterplay around a school with a any kind of a gun?? Who cares what you did as a kid. We didn't wear seatbelts either and smoked.

Posted by Max Crittenden, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Golly, who's responsible for that headline? The word you want is "mistaken".

Posted by Responsible mother, a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Jun 24, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I am sick of people claiming that the crap that occurs in Portola Valley is OK, just because it occurs in PV. The sheriffs see plenty and not just in PV. Should they prepare any differently in PV than they do in EPA? If my idiot kid uses his airsoft gun off my property, I hope the police scare the crap out of him, just hope it doesn't result in loss of life. Let's teach our kids about the real world, not fantasy PV.

Posted by TheWalker, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jun 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm

You want a hyped-up cop pointing a loaded gun at your kids to teach them a lesson while they are playing with a plastic toy? Awesome! And yes - cops should take into account the neighborhood and situation when they are called. Often these kids are just walking from one house to another to play airsoft since they are too young to drive.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Responsible Mother - I'd claim you as family if I could. Not that you'd necessarily be flattered by that! But what's the deal w/a deputy shooting shooting a *Mexican* teen who was mentally disable and armed only with a butter knife, vs. not killing rich kids in PV?

Posted by Susan, a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Nowadays it's more than "you'll shoot your eye out."

Posted by New Generation, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jun 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Why should the police not be alarmed and take precaution. Crazy people are everywhere, not divided by demographics. Kids should keep any type of gun on their properties. If they shoot someone's eye out with a ricocheting bb, it is not ok. Little children do play at Ormondale and find bb's all the time. Chris, it is not city slickers. There were just many more open lots to play on. TheWalker: Kids need parent supervision, which is not happening as much as it should. A community watches out for each other's kids but gun play in public is imposing one's values on other's young children.

Posted by Kaz, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Earlier this year a similar incident happened at Woodside school while families were at the field for kids' soccer games. 

I am glad nobody was hurt, either by the kids or by the deputies' response. We are very lucky that our kids are given the benefit of "white (or rich) privilege", and we don't have police whose experience is that PV is a dangerous place where someone with a gun could be deadly. I wish this was true across our entire high school district so that all our teens could have more leeway for poor choices during adolescence. 

If you let your kids have any gun-shaped object, please make sure they're aware that there is a risk of being shot by law enforcement if someone reports them as an armed suspect. It was a very different situation earlier this month when a man with a BB gun was killed by police in Sunnyvale; in that case the police had good reason for feeling their lives were at risk. There have been other kids across the country who have been shot when using a toy gun because police considered them dangerous. 

I don't know where kids can go to use their BB/airsoft guns, but schools are a very bad choice, even in summer. 

Posted by Mac One, a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jun 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm

"Crazy people are everywhere..."

Look at that couple of crazies from the Cliven Bundy ranch standoff, going back to Vegas to cold blooded kill the two cops just eating their lunch. Then they go in to a Walmart to off themselves. At that point a concealed carry self appointed "hero" decides to draw on him, and the female crazy blows him away.

Two weeks ago: "The husband-and-wife team that shot and killed two Las Vegas police officers, then killed a third person at a nearby Wal-Mart before taking their own lives, had an extensive history of far-right, anti-government beliefs and were obsessed with conspiracy theories....."

Cops have a right to be nervous. They did not overreact.

Posted by PV resident, a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 24, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Um, why are people even buying kids toy guns these days? I think most of us in PV understand that the world is a totally changed place from when we grew up in the 70s and 80s and there are SO many other outdoor fun toy optionswhy guns? I cringe when I see our 4 and 6 year old neighbors pretend-shooting each other with their toy guns. I think it sends the wrong message to our kids. I truly wish life were like it used to be kid-wise and that kids could roam free with whatever toy they wished, but life is just not like that anymore. With shooting after shooting in our schools, why would a parent ever feel obligated to buy their kid a gun of any kind (in this area)? To be cool? To fit in? get over all that.
Lastly, if toy manufacturers insist on continuing to make toy guns, why can't they make them florescent orange, yellow or red? Why black? Seems like black and dark green guns would be more easily mistaken for real ones. Problem solved for the toy gun-loving folks maybe. I'm sure it's not quite that simple...

Posted by resident, a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm

This thread is unfortunate in that people are slinging comments and arguing without much information. Poor choices were made and hopefully lessons can be learned. I am offended by "rich" profiling. WE are all in this together. And for those who may be unaware, PV has some notoriety for the Chowcilla kidnapping, so it is unsafe to assume that there is less danger in PV than other neighborhoods. Hindsight is always more insightful than real time and we all need to be thankful that this incident ended without harm.

Posted by The Walker, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jun 24, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I agree that schools are a really stupid place to take any gun - toy or not. Even if they are vacant for the summer.

That said, I hate the logic that we live in a dangerous world so it's OK load up shotguns when you know (from talking with the one neighborhood kid in custody) that the other two neighborhood kids have a plastic toy gun.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.

Parents must teach their children that as long as "Fearful for their or their partners life" gives the green light for shooting, this is a big difference then when we were growing up playing with BB and Pellet guns in public parks, school grounds etc. Its not what the kids are doing its how the Law Enforcement Officer claims they were feeling.

I would like San Mateo County to come up with a Policy/Goal of No Citizens killed by Law Enforcement. All SMC Deputies trained equally.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

resident - you're offended by rich profiling? That gave me a good laugh, thank you. Now you have a taste of what poor people and non-whites often go through, except of course they lack the privilege and money you have to avoid being abused, harassed and killed by authorities. I am glad that you don't have to encounter that, but perhaps you should look beyond into being offended to understand the dynamics that really occur in these differing scenarios:

-Lower income Mexican teen who's mentally disabled off her meds, living in low income housing, shot immediately upon being seen by a deputy while wielding a butter knife


-Wealthier teens (and likely not Mexican) with replica guns in an expensive neighborhood who come from power and privilege

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


we know it was a butter knife?

Posted by SunnyMom, a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2014 at 6:21 pm

SunnyMom is a registered user.

Air soft guns (and toy guns) have an orange tip. One should be able to determine if a gun is real or not by the tip of the gun. I am sure the police are aware of this. My part Mexican kid plays air soft in our upscale neighborhood all the time, although I encourage him to play in the open space rather than at a school. We used to live in PV.

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"Air soft guns (and toy guns) have an orange tip. One should be able to determine if a gun is real or not by the tip of the gun."

Not always. In the case in Santa Rosa in which a teen was shot by a sheriff's deputy he had broken the orange tip off the air soft gun.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

MV - it's not like Munksie himself told me, but from the news reports I've read, that's what is stated. I found this a good read, and it includes the Serrano killing: Web Link

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


while I have zero respect for Munks or Wagstaffe I don't see information that supports the deputy being attacked with a butter knife. The reports I've read say Serrano attacked him with a knife within 20 seconds of his arrival. I would have defended myself as well under those circumstances. There is way too much information missing in the Serrano case to form an informed opinion. That my be thanks to our corrupt Sheriff and DA, but it's still not enough information.

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