LOS ANGELES (AP) — For a few harrowing seconds, eight officers from a suburban Los Angeles police department had their guns drawn and pointed at a group of college filmmakers shooting a robbery scene at a coffee shop.
One of the actors immediately dropped his fake assault rifle. But another held onto his fake handgun, forcing officers to make a life-or-death choice.
“One of the officers made the decision that had the man moved, he would have been killed,” said Glendora police Capt. Tim Staab. “It was just milliseconds from a tragedy occurring.”
One of the officers, unaware of the filming, knocked the gun from the actor’s hand and handcuffed him, drawing a peaceful climax to what could have been something far worse.
Still, police said it depicted the potential dangers in a movie-making region for amateur film crews who don’t get permits and follow proper steps before taking to the streets.
“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.”
Attempts to reach the film’s director were unsuccessful. The students declined to tell police what college they attended.
The officers responded to the shop after receiving a 911 call from a woman who reported seeing an armed, masked gunman inside Classic Coffee in Glendora, a suburb east of Los Angeles that sees relatively few Hollywood crews.
Police said there was nothing to indicate a short movie was being shot. No one was outside to warn customers, there were no signs, and no permit had been pulled.
When officers arrived, there was no question in their mind that a robbery was occurring, Staab said.