SAN MATEO, CA – A PetSmart store was evacuated after police saw what turned out to be a replica gun while responding to a report of two people passed out in a car in a nearby parking lot, the San Mateo Police Department said.
Police responded to the report at the PetSmart parking lot at 3520 S El Camino Real from a caller who was concerned about the welfare of the people sleeping in the vehicle at around 5:40 p.m.
Officers arriving on scene found two people asleep and saw what appeared to be a firearm within reach of the driver, wedged in between the driver seat and center console.
Officers backed away from the vehicle and called for backup as they developed a plan to safely awaken the two that included evacuating the PetSmart store and moving bystanders away from the vehicle.
While establishing a perimeter officers recognized the driver from previous contacts to be a convicted felon and known Fentanyl user.
Officers repeatedly attempted to communicate with the vehicle occupants, but they would awaken and then fall back asleep several times, which police said is a common side effect of opioid use.
After about 40 minutes they regained consciousness, exited the vehicle and were safely detained.
Police searched the vehicle and discovered what they initially thought was a gun was a replica firearm. They also found a hunting knife tucked in between the seats, additional replica firearms, narcotics, and drug paraphernalia.
Both suspects were arrested and transported to San Mateo County Jail on multiple charges.
A 26-year-old Foster City man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a dangerous drug, being under the influence of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
A 21-year-old Burlingame woman was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.
“This call for service had the potential to be a deadly police contact,” the SMPD said in a statement.
“When transporting firearms in your vehicle, they are supposed to be unloaded, locked, and secured in your trunk. Replica and real firearms are almost identical in appearance.
“The combination of drug use and firearms is a dangerous combination for the narcotics user, police officers, and community at large.”
The SMPD encourages those who know someone suffering from substance abuse and needs resources to contact its partner, Star Vista San Mateo County’s 24/7 crisis hotline at (650) 579-0350 or visit https://goo.gl/AtQVxG.