A US film shoot almost became the scene of a deadly shooting when police mistook the scene for a real robbery.
For a few seconds, eight Los Angeles-area police officers pointed their guns at a group of college filmmakers shooting a robbery scene at a coffee shop.
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 officer knocked the gun from the actor's hand and handcuffed him, ending the tense scene.
Police said it was an example of the potential dangers in a movie-making region for amateur film crews who don't get permits.
Attempts to reach the film's director were unsuccessful. The students declined to tell police what college they attended.
The officers responded to the coffee shop after receiving an emergency call from a woman who reported seeing an armed, masked gunman inside.
Police said there was nothing to indicate a movie was being filmed.
It's rare "to go into a coffee shop and see someone carrying an AR-15 rifle and wearing a mask," Staab said.
Under normal filming protocols, weapons carried by the actors have orange markings to indicate they are replicas. But the markings on the guns used by the students had been covered by a black pen, presumably to make the weapons look more realistic.
The standoff was captured on an audio recorder carried by officers. One yells, "Drop the gun! Drop it! Drop it! (Expletive) drop it!"
Fred Sparling, who owns the coffee shop, told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune the crew had advised his manager that they were shooting a Christian movie and didn't mention the robbery scene until they arrived.
"I think he is darn lucky that the police didn't shoot him," Sparling said.
The students were allowed to keep the fake weapons and weren't facing any charges. They were given a lecture and went on their way.
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