Crazy comes to Cayucos, pretends to have a gun

May 14, 2013


We get our share of crazies passing through town. I met one recently at Kelley’s Espresso and Desserts Coffee Shop in Cayucos. Right away he took a dislike to me—and to just about everyone who crossed his path.

The sheriff’s deputies had informed window washers on the job across the street that they were looking for a scruffy fellow wearing a plaid jacket. Not an easy task in this town. There are a lot of scruffy guys wearing plaid jackets around here.

Apparently he had been spotted waving a stick in a threatening manner at the middle-school up the road, pretending he had a gun.

As the window washer described the guy, a grumbling figure fitting the description passed by the window of the coffee shop. “That’s him!” the window washer exclaimed. “That’s him! Should I call the cops?”

“You bet,” I responded just as a squad car drove by the intersection. I rushed out the door and flagged down the squad car.

The deputy turned the car and came back. He rolled down his window. “That’s your guy right there isn’t it?” I nodded.

“Yeah,” the deputy said, offering a look of irritation. He rolled up his window and drove away.

And suddenly there I was left standing alone, the deputy off to who knows where, and the crazy guy raging, pissed off at me.

In this climate of gun crazies and whacked bombers blowing children to smithereens I figured that I was doing the right thing. “Here’s your man, the one who was waving his hand like he had a gun at the school yard.”

“You got something to say about me, you say it to my face,” the stranger said to my back.

“OK,” I turned and answered, “apparently the cops are looking for a guy whose description you fit to a T, a guy who was seen menacing the children, like he had a gun up at the school.”

“Say gun again and you’ll be sorry,” he threatened.

“The police said ‘gun,’ not me.”

He stared at me menacingly. “Stare into my eyes!”

I smirked, then snorted, trying not to laugh.

“I thought so,” he said, as if he’d judged me an easy target, a weakling. Then he followed me to Kelley’s. We sat out front at one of the tables.

I didn’t want him to feel threatened or challenged or bothering the other customers. I kept watching for the deputies to pull up any moment.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

He stared me down again, said he was from Oklahoma, asked me if I’d ever seen the bloody Arkansas River.

“No,” I answered. “Why’s it called ‘bloody?’”

“From people I took care of.”

“Are you telling me you’re a killer?”

“Just keep pushing me,” he threatened.

Where are the damned deputies? I kept wondering.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

No answer.

“What’s your name?”

He got up and walked away, rattled. Clearly he was insane and what I deemed a threat to the community. Apparently, the deputies thought otherwise, despite what they had told the window washers.

I went inside the coffee shop and moments later he came back and sat outside the window facing me, staring at me, giving me the Jedi mind control treatment, disturbing other customers.

I can take care of myself but I didn’t feel like getting into a scrape with him. I just wanted to finish drinking my coffee, reading the newspaper, unmolested by someone who belongs in an institution.

I felt annoyed and threatened. He caused concern among customers and staff. He reportedly made threatening gestures at the school. “He gives me the creeps,” an employee said.

Meanwhile, despite word from the deputies that he had threatened students at the school, he continued to roam free.

Finally, after nearly 30 minutes of staring me down through the window, he came in to borrow the shop phone, saying he had been robbed.

“Sorry, the phone is out of order,” a staffer said.

He went outside and got hold of a cellphone from one of the many cyclists who stop in for coffee treats on their road trips up and down Highway 1, the same road that brings the crazies through town.

He called the sheriff’s office on the borrowed phone to report that someone had swiped a Rabobank pen, a freebie the bank gives its customers, from his jacket pocket. The deputies investigated, determined it was a false report and hauled him off to jail.

They busted him for filing a false report. So apparently, he wasn’t that much of a threat after all.

An arresting deputy said, “Mental health is the problem in this country, not guns. We’ll take him in, have him evaluated.”

The next day, the stranger was back, mad as ever and still raging and threatening.

He pretended again as if he had a gun, this time holding his hand behind his back, while confronting Kelley, owner of the coffee shop. She called the deputies and made a citizen’s arrest.

As the deputy pulled away, the nutter in the back seat threw his head in a jerking motion, lips pursed, as if he was spitting on me and Kelley through the shop window.

He’ll likely be back. Then what? And what about the deputy who left me standing there to confront someone who had been reported seen menacing the children? Was I wrong to believe that?

I felt exposed and vulnerable, not protected by the deputy’s response to my willingness to help. Later when I mentioned it to another deputy, he seemed perturbed, didn’t want to discuss it.

“We’re too busy,” he snapped. “I wasn’t here yesterday. I’m here getting the story,” he finished, pen poised above his notepad.

“I’m part of the story,” I said. He gave me a look, irritated.

“Why is that guy back here?” I asked. “I thought he was going to be evaluated. Clearly he’s nuts and potentially dangerous.” The deputy showed more irritation than interest in my questions or my side of the story.

As I say, when children are daily threatened in this country with violence, I feel a personal responsibility to do what I can make sure they will be safe, especially those who live in my own hometown. Daily, children need our protection, more so when obvious loonies stand outside the school grounds menacing them with threatening gestures.

Law enforcement’s recent response to my willingness to help, however, not long after Sandy Hook, did little to assure me. I felt exposed, unsafe and unprotected. Additionally, the deputies were rude and dismissive.

Next time, I will be more cautious answering their call for support.

Stacey Warde writes from Cayucos, Calif., where he works as a farmhand and enjoys strong craft beers and deep rich coffees.



  1. Niles Q says:

    Maybe Las Vegas had the right idea, buy the guy a one-way bus ticket to somewhere far away, then dump them off in a strange city with zero money and no prospects.
    Nutty people are in Cayucos and Morro Bay all the time.
    Someone once told me that lost and troubled people head west and this is as far west as one can get without a boat, that’s why we get a lot of crazies here, or so he said.
    As for downtown SLO, they do indeed have a nagging problem with homeless people who are intoxicated by 10 a.m. and hang around all day begging for money so they can get more to drink.
    A SLO cop once told me that our county was in dire need of a detox center, because most of the crazy people walking the streets are messed up on drugs.
    Without a detox center, they get picked up or cited for vagrancy, drunk in public, loitering and trespassing, maybe spend a day in jail and get released again with a promise to appear. Problem is they never show up for court and then they have a warrant so the police pick them up again and the cycle repeats itself over and over again.
    Though they get caught up in the courts system, they never get the real help they need to get clean and sober, which lies at the root of most of their problems.
    Do I have a solution? No and I don’t believe Las Vegas is right either, in passing along their troubled citizens to other cities.
    I do think recognizing there is a problem and facing it head-on is the first step in developing a solution, if indeed there is even one possible for this question.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • topper01 says:

      Niles Q Tnx In Re Las Vegas – It’s called sundown probation. You’re under arrest for grand mopery with the intent to gawk. Sentenced to overnight in jail and released on probation, a condition of which you leave town by sundown.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. SLOChildrenAtPlay says:

    “Crazy Comes To Cayucos.” Well this might be shocking behaviour for Cayucos, but anyone who works anywhere near downtown SLO sees this almost weekly. I remember taking classes at Cal Poly and Dan Krieger would tell of the old days when SLO was referred to as the “Middle Kingdom.” My circle of friends (all who work or live near downtown) now refer to SLO as “Kingdom Of The Derelicts.” Nothing new here Stacey Warde. Glad to hear that Cayucos managed to stay sheltered from the total insanity that SLO has been experiencing for 5+ years now.

    (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
    • zaphod says:

      Cayucos is one of the last authentic beach towns left in Ca.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  3. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I understand Stacy being a bit frazzled by this incident but I don’t see where the cops did wrong. Cops are REACTIVE NOT PROACTIVE!!!! If you have a crime then they REACT!! If you think there MIGHT be a crime that would be PROACTIVE and they can’t do anything because you have a gut feeling etc.

    Yes he pointed a stick at the kids BUT by law I don’t think you could arrest on making a terroist threat. If he had said something to boot with maybe???

    I am NOT saying that the guy in question may not have been a concern and I probably would be frazzled by his behavior to BUT the law is the law. I don’t see where he did anything that would warrent anything that didn’t already happen with his picking up then releasing.

    This goes back to what we have all been arguing about here in past. We NEED more mental health facilities that family members can check people into that may be a threat to themselves or others. Till then we are all going to have to deal with the situation as it is. Is that a good outcome? NO but that is where we are at.

    (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
    • LAH says:

      I agree, we do need Mental health re-established. But this guy did make threats, and the Deputy should have run him to Mental health for evaluation. Sounds more like he just didn’t want to deal with the headache or paperwork. What should have happened, EVERYONE should have called 911 when he started the threats. Bombard the Sheriff with calls. If they had 10+calls, bet they would have never seen this guy back in Cayucos.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • topper01 says:

        California Courts and US Courts, for that matter, has gutted the laws pertaining to mental health (5150 W&I). Do not blame the Officer for laws that you allowed the State to implement! Does anyone know for a fact that the Officer did NOT take him to Mental Health and that they released him? I could not tell by reading this one man’s account of the events whether or not the Officer booked him in jail and they released him or in Mental Health and they released him. Anyone have the inside info????

        (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:

      Actually, if they call the military, they could pick him up and detain him indefinitely without a warrant (since last years approval of the DAA)… just saying…

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  4. smiley says:

    If this guy was anywhere near a school he should have been arrested. Bet if he didn’t stink and act so crazy the deputy would have hauled him in and charged him with making terrorist threats. You gotta look like you can afford an attorney and big fine to qualify.

    (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
    • r0y says:

      Thinking like this is what destroys liberties and empowers tyranny.

      (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
      • smiley says:

        What destroys liberties is one ass like this guy on the street harassing and threatening law abiding citizens day after day and the law will wait until this nut assaults someone before they take him off the street. We got tyranny already with nanny government rules and a legal system where cash trumps all.

        (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
        • topper01 says:

          smiley “….and the law will wait until this nut assaults someone before…” Really?
          In the movie The Matrix, Law Enforcement Officers were empowered to make arrests on crimes that an individual “will” commit in the future. As of now, our Law Enforcement Officers are limited to making arrest for crimes already committed.

          (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
          • smiley says:

            We are splitting hairs on this. You can be arrested for intent to blow up someone if you have the makings of a bomb which I allow is a lot more serious than this idiots actions to date. Then again an arrest for loitering with intent to commit prostitution is a reality in some states. Thought crime I would say. Don’t care if this guy is sick or just evil, in my opinion an arrest or a ride way out of town is what most of us would like to see.

            (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
            • topper01 says:

              I am glad to hear you are so willing to give up your civil rights. As for me, you had better have a specific crime in mind if you plan on arresting me. Note: It is NOT illegal to resist an unlawful arrest. But, then again, I could use a nice chunk of your tax dollars in the form of a civil suit for unlawful arrest.

              (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
              • smiley says:

                Who says I’m willing to give up my rights? Im not worried that if they can make arrests for the type of behavior this bum exhibited that I might be next to get arrested. Common sense, behavior like that is commonplace in most cities but out of place in Cayucos. I don’t fault an officer in Oakland for ignoring a bum like this but I think having to keep coming back to deal with this guy repeatedly is s huge waste of tax $

                (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
                • topper01 says:

                  N.I.M.B.Y. Anywhere but in my town! Whenever the law fails, vigilante justice prevails.

                  (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
          • kettle says:

            “In the movie The Matrix, Law Enforcement Officers were empowered to make arrests on crimes that an individual “will” commit in the future.”


            (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
            • topper01 says:

              Your are right it was ‘Minority Report’.

              (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  5. SpeakTruth says:

    You know what would have made the author safer from a nutjob with a weapon? Being able to carry one himself for self-defense. Parkinson uses the California Attorney General’s opinion on good cause to determine if you qualify to exercise your rights or whether you should remain stripped of them.

    The California Attorney General states in regards to good cause: “Convincing evidence of a clear and present danger to life, or of great bodily harm to the applicant, his/her spouse, or dependent child, which cannot be adequately dealt with by existing law enforcement resources, and which danger cannot be reasonably avoided by alternative measures, and which danger would be significantly mitigated by the applicant’s carrying of a concealed firearm.”

    So if the police can’t get there in time to help you when you call them, what are you supposed to do?

    If the police won’t help you when you call them, what are you supposed to do?

    Did the author not use his crystal ball months in advance to know that he would be faced with a clear and present danger in the form of a mentally unstable individual who would threaten physical violence?

    The answer is simple. Knowing the future, he should have filled out the CCW application, including 3 character reference letters and two items of canceled postage, paid the $200 processing fee, interviewed and shared his foreknowledge with the undersheriff, taken the class and passed his exam, and wait the two months to be issued a printed license to then be able to carry a means to defend himself. Duh!

    Wait; there’s no such thing as a crystal ball? Well then, RIGHTS DENIED!

    (8) 20 Total Votes - 14 up - 6 down
    • kettle says:

      Wow more guns, what could possibly go wrong.

      (-9) 21 Total Votes - 6 up - 15 down
      • SpeakTruth says:

        I dunno; people being able to defend themselves and actually deterring crime from happening in the first place?

        (14) 20 Total Votes - 17 up - 3 down
  6. LAH says:

    How did he get back to Cayucos so fast? They didn’t hold him or check him out! IF they did as the Deputy said they would, he would have been in SLO and would have forgotten all about Cayucos.
    BTW south they wont hold him for 72 unless he says he will harm himself. OR the Deputy would have reported his threats, but obviously the cop didn’t and It doesn’t seem he ever made it to mental health.

    (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
  7. mkaney says:

    I have an idea… how about trying to ignore the guy? Have you ever lived in a big city? This is the daily grind in a lot of places. Ignore them and they usually just go away.

    (-12) 22 Total Votes - 5 up - 17 down
    • ds_gray says:

      Ignoring the problem is what they did in Aurora, CO. Did ya happen to see how that turned out? The shooter was insane and ignored. Then he shot up a whole theatre full of people in ‘a big city’.

      Not a good idea, mkaney.

      (13) 15 Total Votes - 14 up - 1 down
      • mkaney says:

        I prefer the route of letting people carry and then ignoring people like this. I bet that if more people carried, even nutjobs would be less prone to do things like this, and if they actually had a gun, well then the problem could be taken care of really quickly.

        Quite honestly.. these mass shootings claim very few lives in comparison to a huge list of other things. I prefer to see that we do not pass laws or have policies which are oppressive to good people and accept the risks that come along with freedom. Because freedom ISN’T free, only the cost is not constant war, it is less security.

        (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
      • r0y says:

        The mentally unstable person also knew that no one in the theater would be armed, as it was a gun-free zone.

        (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down

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