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Police Nearly Fire At Film Crew Shooting Robbery Scene

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Two student actors filming a hold-up scene without permits are lucky they weren't shot by police responding to what looked like a real robbery in progress.

The two men brandished realistic-looking toy guns in a Glendora coffee shop for a scene in the Christian movie they're making for a school project, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Passerby Linda Bergslien told CBS2 that she thought she was witnessing a robbery and immediately called 911. "They had masks on, and the one had a gun in his hand, and it was clear they were ready to enter the building," she said.

Eight officers responded to the scene, where they saw two men wearing black hoodies, black gloves and bandanas over their faces; one was wielding a handgun and the other an assault rifle.

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The police didn't know they were Airsoft guns, especially since the orange tips had been removed. The situation escalated when the actor with the handgun froze and didn't initially comply with commands to drop the weapon, as his friend with the rifle had done.

The actors probably owe their lives to one officer who reached out and took the gun out of the man's hand, intervening just as another officer was getting ready to shoot, Capt. Tim Staab of the Glendora Police Department told CBS2.

Seconds later, the sergeant saw a camera, and the actors explained they were shooting a short film.

The film crew had not notified authorities about the shoot. A store manager had given permission for the shoot but didn't think to call city officials, according to the police statement.

"All you do is thank God that nothing bad happened that could have easily happened,'' Capt. Staab told the Tribune.

"There are a lot of amateur filmmakers out there, people just have to be careful," Staab said. "I can't think of anything more risky in the world than to simulate an armed robbery at an open business."

Business owner, Fred Sparling was not there at the time, but his general manager told him the filmmakers told him they'd gotten permission to film from the city. They did not inform him they would be shooting a robbery scene.

No charges are expected for the incident, Staab said, which he called "extremely reckless."

"All you do is thank God that nothing bad happened that could have easily happened," he said. "I think he is darn lucky that the police didn't shoot him.