Police: Man aimed toy gun at drivers

Homeless man allegedly pointed a fake assault rifle at several passing vehicles.

February 22, 2011|By Veronica Rocha,
  • Officer Leticia Chang in the background with the suspect. (Courtesy of the Glendale Police Department)
Officer Leticia Chang in the background with the suspect.…

CENTRAL GLENDALE — Police on Tuesday arrested a homeless man who pointed a toy assault rifle at passing vehicles near Glendale Memorial Hospital, officials said.

Witness reports began coming in at 6:25 a.m. that the man, later identified as 57-year-old John Schwartz, was pointing an AK-47 assault rifle at passing vehicles at Los Feliz Road and Brand Boulevard, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Fearing that Schwartz would fire what they thought was a real gun, Lorenz said several motorists swerved to avoid his aim.

A dozen police units arrived within two minutes and surrounded Schwartz, Lorenz said, shutting down the intersection.

Schwartz immediately complied with police orders to put down the fake gun.

“He was lucky he did not get shot,” Lorenz said.

Schwartz was arrested at 6:30 a.m. on suspicion of drawing or exhibiting an imitation weapon in a threatening manner.

He was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident, Lorenz said.


When responding to any emergency call involving a person with a weapon, Lorenz said officers consider all scenarios.

“You’re always thinking about what you can do, what you will do and what you have to do,” he said.

Schwartz has a history of alcohol-related arrests, including alcohol theft and disorderly conduct, with the Police Department. His first arrest in Glendale was three years ago near Verdugo Boulevard and Valihi Way in connection with stealing alcohol from a gas station, Lorenz said.

An employee with U-Haul Moving and Storage of Glendale, which is at the corner of Los Feliz and Brand where the Tuesday incident occurred, declined to comment on the incident. And a homeless services official said operators couldn’t confirm whether Schwartz was a client because that information is private.

FOR THE RECORD: This amends an earlier version to correct the location of the 2007 arrest.

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