The Great Dorothy Lane Airsoft Caper of ’09

This is a recollection of the day when 11 Fullerton PD units saved us from a plastic gunfight.

We were living on the North side of Dorothy Lane at this time.  I would not have allowed this if I were home, but my son Riley and his three buddies had an Airsoft war in the front yard.  There was one kid with an automatic Airsoft rifle and the other 3 had cheesy plastic handguns with orange tips.

My very cool neighbor Paul, who was working in his front yard, told me later that he knew the cops were going to come because some of the people driving by were watching pretty intently.

Obviously, a dumb idea.  At about dusk, three or four Fullerton cops came screeching up, pulled their guns and told the boys to freeze, drop their weapons, etc…  I’m fine with all of this.  They’ve got to protect the community.  Within a minute or two there were 11 units on scene.  One of the boys’ girlfriends pulled up while it was happening and took these pictures.

At that point, my neighbor, who is about 56, very articulate and grew up in the neighborhood, told one of the cops near him that the boys were just playing airsoft and that it’s OK.

Even after the cops were informed that it was an airsoft game, they made the boys put their hands on their heads, back toward them, lie on their stomachs, handcuff them and put them in one of the cars. My neighbor began chewing this cop’s ear that he could not believe they were not putting an end to this event, now that they knew what was going on.

The 8oz clear plastic guns were lying on the ground near where they had the boys lie down.  There were real guns pointed at the four boys the whole time.  After the cops got all the kids in the car, they sent officers with shotguns down either side of my house, into the backyard and then asked for permission to search the house… which my handcuffed son gave them.

When I talked to some higher ranking guy at the station the next day, he told me that he once was on a bust in Fullerton where guys were out front with Airsoft guns while there were real bad guys with real guns, pistol whipping the homeowners inside.  He declined to get me the details of that incident.

I will say this:  Once the boys were in the back of the car and the crime scene was secured, my son told me that the police did NOT condescend to them, berate them or generally act like power hungry jackasses.  I was told that the boys having their shirts off had something to do with the reaction. It seems that speed freaks are particularly fond of going shirtless. Well, so are boys that practice for Eastside’s High school Worship Group in my garage when it’s 90 degrees outside.  Plus, it’s more fun to shoot somebody with an Airsoft gun when their shirt is off.

This happened more than a year ago and I was torn as to whether or not to allow FFFF to post the photos.  After this much time has passed, I figured it was worthwhile just to point out that Fullerton is adequately staffed to have 11 units show up to a plastic gun fight.

41 Replies to “The Great Dorothy Lane Airsoft Caper of ’09”

    1. 11 units to subdue those troublemakers. 80 firefighters to watch a building burn down.

      Why is it I don’t feel any safer, just poorer?

  1. Just be glad you live in Fullerton and not Yorba Linda, where the Brea cops are known to shoot and kill kids out on the street in front of thier own home…..Oh thats right Julian was unarmed.

    BTW how’s that report coming T-RACK, now that Billy Hutchins took the early retirement in advance of the delayed report???

    Talk about a scandal

  2. “.. (a cop) told me that he once was on a bust in Fullerton where guys were out front with Airsoft guns while there were real bad guys with real guns, pistol whipping the homeowners inside. He declined to get me the details of that incident.”

    Sounds like a typical cop lie in order to get you to back off.

    They deserve too – after all they have to deal with kids playing with Air Soft guns – tough duty you know.

  3. This is one of the stupidest blog posts ever. And I agree with 95% of the majority positions here.

    Chris, you have to understand how 911 calls are processed. They use a strict protocol based on what the caller is telling them to remove any emotion or doubt. It doesn’t matter if there are extenuating circumstances or confusion on the part of the caller. The response is standardized across the board.

    To the 911 operator, the situation involves three young males with guns in the front yard, and that’s how the call gets dispatched. Of course there will be a boatload of officers. Had the threat been real, wouldn’t you have wanted all 11 units to show up?

    Look at it this way, at least they did their due diligence and took the call seriously. Kind of rare for government employees these days.

    1. I can only imagine the amount of bile that would have been vomited all over this blog had the cops under-reacted to a real crime in progress instead. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. No, it’s easy to lob grenades from the peanut gallery where all the bitter malcontents reside. If Fullerton sucks so bad then MOVE, douchebag.

      1. Hey Mango, how’s that Roland Chi sign theft ring investigation coming along? You Heroes sure as Hell under-responded to that crime!

  4. II don’t have an issue with the seriousness of the response Cheesehead. Of course they should take it seriously. The question is, why did they continue to treat this like a realreal armed threat for a good 15 minutes after they knew what they were dealing with? They had enough data within a couple of minutes of arrival to know that it was time to stop pointing their guns at my son and his friends. I absolutely believe that they were intent on finishing what they had started because they felt they could justify it. Keep in mind that the boys were in the back of the car and the toy guns were in their possession once they sent more officers down both sides of the house with shotguns. I’m glad my 11 year old daughter wasn’t back there playing with her friends.

    1. Again, Chris, it’s all protocol. When they fail to follow protocol and something happens, it’s a field day for every trial lawyer in the area.

      Think about it. What if they HADN’T sent more officers in with shotguns and searched your house? Then, after they left, somebody was shot with a real gun? How do they know there wasn’t a fourth kid with a REAL rifle hiding in your house or the backyard? You can’t possibly expect them to take the kids’ word for it and leave.

      I like you Chris, but you’re being really naive about this. What if somebody was in the back holding a REAL gun to your daughter’s head? You absolutely, positively, would have expected the police to search the property before leaving. Had something tragic happened, you’d be angry if the police hadn’t “overreacted” like you think they did here. In fact, you’d likely be suing the Fullerton PD for negligence.

      This leaves two alternatives for the police:
      1. Disregard 911 calls of people pointing guns and rifles at each other.
      2. Assume the worst and be damn sure everything is secured before releasing potential suspects or leaving the scene.

      Which alternative do you want?

  5. Thanks for the measured comments cheese. I don’t agree that I’m being naive because I don’t believe it would have been a violation of policy to have ended that call at some point prior to when they did. I’m not, nor have I been angry at the department for this specific event, however, I think you would be hard pressed to argue that there was not sufficient data to end the call earlier. Also, how many units would have been enough for you to agree that too many resources were dedicated to this, much less available? Say 11 is justifiable… is 30?

    1. Chris, when should the police have called the response off? Don’t overlook the fact it was getting dark out. Are you suggesting the police call things off once they search your son and his friends and inspect the Airsoft guns? After they talk to your neighbor?

      How do you know the 911 caller didn’t spot a fourth person holding a real gun because he/she felt threatened by your son and his friends? The bottom line here is you don’t know what the caller told the 911 operator. Maybe that person reported five kids holding guns.

      In any event you can’t expect any hospitality or convenience from the police when your son and his friends are doing something incredibly stupid in the front yard, just a few houses away from Acacia School.

      1. It’s a great question Cheese and I agree that I should not, nor do I, expect hospitality from the police simply because my son decided to play with toy guns on a busy residential street. I will use my neighbors comments to me as an answer. He thought it was ridiculous that they took 6 or 8 minutes to back up all 4 boys at gunpoint, handcuff them and put them in the back of the car. However, he said that when they went alongside his property and the other side of my house once they were in possession of all of the toy guns and had all 4 boys in custody, that he was pissed off at that point. Here was their data BEFORE that decision was made.

        1. 4 Toy guns in their possession.
        2. A large canister of yellow airsoft pellets sitting on the roof of a car in plain site the entire time..which is in two of the photos above.
        3. A neighbor who was telling them that he was out in his front yard (physically 15′ from the boys) for the entire event from beginning to end and that they were just playing.
        4. Four HIGHLY respectful, completely sober and low key young men to give them the story which could be told in 10 seconds.

        Not to compare the events, because I do not think they are terribly comparable, but I also believe the Rodney King video pretty clearly shows that the police overstepped. I am simply not one of those that says there is no measure too great for police to ensure our safety. If that were the case, one would advocate for periodic unannounced searches of all of our homes. Incidentally, I give police pretty wide latitude in the name of bringing a dangerous and illegal situation under control. I’m at an advantage here. I know the scene, I know these boys and I interviewed all involved at length including the uniformed Lieutenant after the incident. Obviously he supports the department. Nobody was harmed and I don’t believe there was any malicious intent. I think it because a training exercise at some point which included searching in and around my home with loaded shotguns.

        In my opinion, they blew it. Not tragically so, but it is certainly worth putting out in the public domain so as to keep everybody honest.

        1. I’m sorry Chris, but your reasoning is still flawed. You’ve described the reality of the situation, something the police would not have known when they responded. Would a medical doctor know you have clogged arteries without running tests? Would your accountant know the amount of your tax refund without running some numbers? Of course, the answers are no and no. This incident is no different, it takes time to figure out what’s really going on. The police did just that.

          — You said: “once they were in possession of all of the toy guns and had all 4 boys in custody”. Again, Chris, please answer the question. HOW is the police supposed to know 1) all guns are accounted for, 2) all people are accounted for, UNLESS they search your property?

          — The presence of airsoft pellets doesn’t exclude the possibility of a real gun and another person holding that gun in the house or backyard.

          — Why should the police believe your neighbor or the kids involved? Totally serious question here. The police don’t know any of them.

          — You realize of course that even the worst criminals can be respectful, sober, and low-key when confronted by law enforcement, right?

          Although you acknowledge you don’t expect hospitality from the police, your whole premise reeks of arrogance. This is mind-boggling because any of those kids could have been shot by the police thinking it was a real gun. By God’s grace nobody was injured or went to jail. What more could you possibly want from this?

          I too struggle with pride and a sense of entitlement; the way people treat me is infuriating sometimes and I have trouble letting it go. You’re not alone. I pray that if you’re serious about confronting this battle, you will flee from the likes of Gene Appel and the seeker-sensitive message. I went for years not realizing how I was being destroyed by it.

          1. Cheese you logic is dumbfounding. If we follow this type of reasoning any routine traffic stop could be escalated into a terror/hostage/nuclear threat.

            The kids were dumb. The cops over-reacted once on the scene.

            Yes those cops could have shot those kids. It’s happened before and it will happen again. No one went to jail because no crime was committed.

            The good thing is at least the kids learned a lesson.

            P.S. Chris it’s probably to late since the records aren’t kept but I’d love to hear that dispatch call.

  6. “At that point, my neighbor, who is about 56, very articulate and grew up in the neighborhood, told one of the cops near him that the boys were just playing airsoft and that it’s OK.”

    The Police should DEFINITELY believe everything that anyone tells them… (sarcasm)

    The fact is, your son and his friends made a dumb, young man mistake, and because you live in a nice area of Fullerton you feel that you were violated in some way. If this happened at 400 W. Valencia, you would never know it happened.

    Police officers get dispatched to a call and can only go on the information that is provided by dispatch. When the call comes out that there are 3-4 males with guns, you’re going to get quite a response. You deserve this. Take into account that you need officers to cover the 4 men with their own guns, officers to handcuff each men (an arrest team,) officers to stop pedestrians and traffic from entering the scene, and probably a supervisor or two to control the situation. If there were 20 units available, they would have been there.

    I know that somewhere along the line, I guess because of our pensions, that cops became the bad guys, but give us a break every once in a while.

    If you’re so upset with this incident, maybe you should talk to the numerous neighbors that called 911 because they were in fear in their quiet East Fullerton neighborhood.

    No news here folks… just the lack thereof.

  7. Cheesehead last I checked it’s not illegal to own a firearm. In California open carry is legal. I don’t see how this is even a crime scene. Sense when are we so stuck to policy that people aren’t allowed to use commonsense? This incident is another example of a city fat with public employees.

    1. It was a call for service and they can investigate to see if the guns are real or not. Open carry or no open carry.

  8. Let’s tell all our residents to run around with guns (real or fake) on public streets. I know that many guns look like toys and some are even disguised to look like toys (painted orange tips) but they’re real. I don’t understand this post other than for Chris to let everyone know (and we all know what you and others on this site feel about the public employees)the police are bad for handling a call for service involving his family and friends and to try and say they did something wrong. Chris why don’t you teach you child that playing shoot your friend with a gun is better off done in your backyard or a place that won’t induce a call to the police? Why did you wait over a year? Election issues? I’m so glad that your on the school board. Seems like your an expert on deployment of police and fire services. What type of response do you think is appropriate? I think that this was a waste of city resources because you didn’t teach your child the proper way to play with guns. What a pathetic situation that you feel is worthy of a blog post.
    I also think 11 police cars response may be a little mustard on the hot dog. I wonder if that is an accurate number.

  9. It’s clear to me that a significant portion of the population has lost the ability to 2nd guess public safety performance. Their unions should move forth with continued confidence.

    1. It only seems that way because you’re actually arguing with public safety union members themselves.

      The rest of us generally agree that pondering the behavior of our public sector overlords is always a good thing.

  10. I think the best thing we can learn from this post is that you should teach your children to never give cops the consent to search your home.

    1. Can a minor (or any one else) “consent” to have someone else’s property searched? I mean, I’m not a lawyer or anything, but it seems pretty weird.

  11. cops have come to my home twice in 20 years. Both times they attempted to push their way into my home. Both times I stood inside my home with my foot jammed up against the door. They did not get in – except under MY terms. Cops will always try to bully their way – citizens have rights – stand up for your rights – teach your children to stand up for their rights.

  12. A call for service is one thing, but 30 cops arriving with guns drawn even after seeing the clear air Soft guns that the kids were using. It’s just plain wrong. I’ve had guns pulled on me (in the military) and it’s scary! I would be livid if this happened to me children outside my house, especially when it was just a case of kids being kids!

  13. I really don’t understand why the cops were called at all? A cursory look at the situation would have solved all the answers any bystander would want.

    Add to this, the fact that open carry is legal and the police have NO right to detain a law abiding citizen.

    If the cops would allow Concealed Carry on a more regular basis then this wouldn’t be an issue at all…..

    Oh wait that’s right, Cops are “better citizens” than the rest of us.

    Tell that to Yorba Linda’s Julian who was unarmed and now is deceased.

    Hero deserve…pass a donut and the ammo……especially knowing that the likelihood of actually convicting the gestapo…I mean the police is nill……STILL WAITING ON THAT REPORT FROM YORBA LINDA!

  14. I hope every single person reading this blog will talk to their kids about granting police permission to search their person or home. While they are at it, watch the “Dont talk to the police” video on youtube. My preteen has already been drilled on not answering any questions by authority figure until mom or dad is present when they think someone might be getting in trouble for anything more than an argument or stolen pencil. You should be doing this as, or shortly before, they are old enough to get in trouble because they aren’t ever going to learn it in school.

    1. This is the BEST post on this thread.

      Educate your kids about thier rights. A well educated kid, will shut down a 26 year old cop all day long. This is still the USA right???

  15. I can’t coax Riley out to make a comment. His exact words to me today were, “I wanted to say no, but I was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car and didn’t feel I had a lot of options there.” How about a little color commentary there Riley???

  16. I’m so glad to read this article for several reasons. Four days ago I didn’t even know the airsoft guns existed. I learned the hard way by being held at gunpoint and honestly thinking I was going to die. That gun looked SO real! And it was a kid holding the gun.

    I was so shaken up and then angry when I found out that people are manufacturing these things to look identical to real guns. I got into a huge argument with some parents who went into the whole “it’s bad parenting” defense. Well, I’m going to take a guess that the parents of these boys are NOT bad parents, and that these are NOT bad boys. Just boys. Typical boys. And boys do stupid things. AND, people are really afraid of guns (which they should be).

    You have greatly substantiated my point. And I thank you. I’m very grateful to the cops for taking this so very seriously. Good job police!!!

    1. Oh I’m grateful too. We can now see how the FPD expends resources AFTER it is perfectly clear that no crime has been committed and no threat exists.

      1. Yep. What these boys did was incredibly stupid, dangerous and irresponsible. The first time they saw someone drive by and ‘look’ at them they should have stopped. They are SO lucky one of them, if not more, did not get killed. There have already been SO many deaths due to these guns, and most are due to cops shooting.

        One day these boys will grow up, have kids and then finally realize what idiots they were.

        My opinion is that any parent who would let their kids have these is simply ignorant.

        1. A Victim, itchy trigger finger + adrenalin + attitude = innocent kids playing with toy guns getting whacked by ignorant pig fuckers.

          1. “TOY” guns that are exact replicas of real guns. Even down to their weight. Don’t try to soft soap it. These manufacturers WANT them to look as real as possible. That’s why the kids like them.

            And, no, NOT innocent kids playing. Young men old enough to know better and young men breaking their parents’ rules. Not at all innocent.

        2. Yeah thank God the cops don’t shoot all of us for the incredibly stupid, dangerous, and irresponsible act of questioning their pensions.

          We are SO lucky.

          1. Oh my gosh. What are you 12?

            I KNOW you knew at the time you were out there doing this that what you were doing was wrong.

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