Man with pellet gun threatens firefighters near Balboa Park

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego police Monday morning arrested a man suspected of threatening firefighters with a pellet gun in Balboa Park.

Around 9 a.m., multiple small fires were reported near a homeless encampment on the hillside off of state Route 163 near the Cabrillo Bridge.

As firefighters approached a brush fire, they saw a revolver next to a man who was lying down inside his tent nearby, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. Firefighters yelled at him to not touch the gun but he immediately grabbed it. Firefighters then retreated up the hill and called for help.

“He noticed the weapon, called it out to the firefighters working on extinguishing the fire, gave very loud commands to the suspect to not touch the gun. The suspect immediately went for the gun. That’s when the firefighters exited the canyon," said Capt. James Shadoan.

Police arrived and arrested the suspect for unrelated offenses but did not find the weapon.

Firefighters stayed behind to search the area and about an hour later found the gun, which they say the suspect had buried in the dirt and under a log.

Police were then called out to retrieve it.

“We go hands-on with a lot of homeless people, people under the influence of drugs – carrying knives, guns – a lot of them want to fight us. It’s becoming more of the norm," said Shadoan.