On March 1, National City police got a call at 11:30 a.m. from inside the Arco AM/PM at W. 8th and Roosevelt Avenue from someone who had seen people aiming what appeared to be assault weapons inside a car near the gas pumps.
Gas station incident
In the pouring rain, several police cars surrounded the small car wrapped with insurance-company ads. Officers took cover behind their vehicles and ordered the three occupants of the car to raise their hands and come out one by one. Each of the occupants was patted down and handcuffed before being placed in a police cruiser. All the while, people at the gas pumps watched at a distance of no more than three to five feet beyond the police cruisers, laughing and joking. Word had gone around that the "high-powered assault weapons" were BB guns.
A young woman on the nearby sidewalk was crying. She said that one man in the car was her younger 21-year-old brother and that the weapons were just BB guns. Her companion kept telling her to calm down and assured her that nothing would happen to her brother.
After the car was cleared of its occupants, the officer barking instructions led four other police officers — weapons up and at the ready — to search the vehicle. They came out carrying what appeared to be several assault-style rifles.
A National City police officer whose nametag identified him as N. Matthews came over to talk to the sister. He carried one of the rifles: black, with a sight scope and a skull painted on it.
“We got a call from people inside the convenience store saying they had seen people pointing guns inside a car, and that’s why we had to approach the way we did. In the world we live in today, we don’t know what we can be facing.”
The officer explained that nothing more would happen because the guns were not illegal, but he advised that the guns should be carried in the trunk.
“They shouldn’t be playing like they were. These guns look real.” He stopped and held up the gun. “This is how people get killed.”
Shortly afterward, the three young men were allowed to go free. As the police cars departed, the sister on the sidewalk was waving her arms and appeared to be yelling at her brother.