BB gun owner who prompted lockdown talks to Town Crier

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Wednesday afternoon, May 24, Michael Austin, 46, of Idyllwild, came to the Town Crier office to talk about the incident a few weeks ago wherein he was observed with a BB gun not very far from Idyllwild School. Austin stated he wanted to explain how the incident occurred by way of reassuring people that there was never a danger to anyone because of the incident.

In the ensuing interview with the Town Crier, Austin quietly related that he actually had carried the BB gun around in Idyllwild for weeks before the day of the incident without any problem. He said he carried it with him because, presently being homeless, he didn’t have a safe place to leave it. He stressed he does not hunt with it and does not shoot at animals.

Austin thinks the incident may have erupted on this particular day because, while he was carrying the BB gun, he got into a loud argument with a friend at the storage unit facility near the corner of Highway 243 and South Circle Drive, a block or so northeast of Idyllwild School. He said the BB gun played no part in the argument, but someone may have seen him with it at the time and thought he was threatening. Austin stated that he did not go to the school and had no intention of going there.

As a result of a man-with-a-gun report, Idyllwild School went into lock-down, and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department responded with a patrol unit and a helicopter. Austin said it was a shame that a BB gun resulted in such expensive responses.

Austin said when the deputy sheriff on the scene approached him, he showed the deputy the BB gun and explained as above. The deputy did not arrest him, he said, but he did confiscate the BB gun, giving him a receipt for it and telling him he could pick it up at a later time at the Hemet Sheriff’s Station. Austin stated he had not done so by the time of our interview.

Austin related he has lived in Idyllwild for many years and wants to reassure everyone that he poses no threat to our community.

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