The firearms were only replicas and the fatigues weren’t real, but that didn’t matter to thousands of scared Southland motorists and quickly responding law enforcement officers.
Two young men who told authorities they were film students doing a school project were facing charges Monday of multiple misdemeanors after they were spotted on an overpass in Agoura Hills dressed in military fatigues and carrying what appeared to be assault weapons.
The sighting about 5 p.m. Sunday on the Cheeseboro Road overpass above the Ventura (101) Freeway resulted in a flood of 911 calls to authorities and a temporary shut down of the Ventura Freeway at that juncture, Sheriff’s Lt. A. J. Rotella said. The freeway was closed there for 10 minutes, Rotella said.
Several California Highway Patrol units and deputies from the Malibu/Lost Hills station immediately responded to the scene and found the men, ages 19 and 20 and from Ventura, dressed in fatigues and carrying what appeared to be real weapons, Rotella said. “They did have cameras up there.” Investigators will determine if the recording was school-related.
The sheriff’s department also sent a helicopter to the scene.
Authorities ordered the two suspects to lay down their guns and walk with their hands up towards waiting law enforcement officers. After the men surrendered, authorities found they were in possession of a replica assault rifle, replica handgun, military uniforms, cameras and a gas mask.
Both suspects cooperated with authorities and said they were Moorpark College students filming a school project.
“While the intentions of these two individuals might have been harmless, the fact that anyone would appear in a public place displaying a replica firearm is troubling,” Sheriff’s Capt. Patrick Davoren said. “These two men put themselves and our community at risk.
“This does reflect the fast actions of the community in notifying law enforcement and reminds everyone that if they see something they should say something,” Davoren said.”
Rotella said the two men were arrested and were being booked on three misdemeanor charges each. These include: displaying a replica firearm, causing a false emergency and removing the toy indicator from the gun which lets law enforcement see the gun is not real.
Their bail was set at $15,000 each. Their names were not immediately available.
—Staff and wire reports