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Toy M16 rifle in moving car triggers false alarm

November 14, 2011 |  9:18 am

The sight of a toy M16 rifle being played with in a family's minivan on the freeway was enough to send seven police and sheriff's units in pursuit of the vehicle.

The false alarm began when a motorist reported seeing a person brandish a rifle out of the green minivan in Walnut on Friday afternoon. When authorities caught up to the vehicle in a park-and-ride in Chino Hills, they saw two boys in child safety seats. On the lap of one of the boys was the plastic green-camouflage rifle, its orange tip flagging it as a replica.

With no real weapon to worry about, the responding officers gave the parents a lecture about how their children need to be careful when playing with a pretend firearm.

"We take that pretty serious," said Deputy Warren Toy, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "We definitely educated [the parents] not to point even a toy gun at somebody because you never know if the other person had a real gun and would seek to engage."


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-- Matt Stevens