Backyard target practice prompted shutdown of Atascadero area

October 10, 2014

rifle amoAn early morning target practice session led to the closure of an Atascadero neighborhood and the arrest of two residents Wednesday.

Shortly before 3:30 a.m., Atascadero police responded to calls of shots fired in the 11000 block of Halcon Road in Atascadero. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s SWAT team officers joined Atascadero police and set up a perimeter around the home from which the sound of repeated rifle fire was coming.

Law enforcement officials also locked down nearby areas of the city, including a couple apartment complexes, and sent out robo calls to parents of children in the Atascadero Unified School District. Bus routes in the area also stopped temporarily Wednesday morning.

After officers surrounded the home of interest, four occupants of the house surrendered and officers searched the premisses.

Officers found 40 shell casings in the backyard, as well as an AR-15 rifle. They arrested Atascadero residents Christopher Stephens, 28, and Brian Sims, 24, for discharge of a firearm with gross negligence and booked them into the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Stephens and Sims also received charges of violating the Atascadero Municipal Code, which prohibits the discharge of a firearm within the city limits.



  1. ToHellinaHandBasket says:


    I’m not so sure that it was limited to just “around the home”. I live at HOV on the southside of A-town. I was awakend at about 0315 by 4 very loud shots. I thought it came from the Oak apartments next door on Jornada Lane.

    From the townhome I live in, my bedroom window faces northwest. I stood in my window and listened as the shots moved north on El Camino. They were sporadic but very distinct. My thought was that whoever was shooting were traveling in a vehicle Northbound on El Camino Real towards Chalk Mountain Liquor and maybe further. I heard the very distinct shots of either an AR-15 or AK-47 coming from that northern part of town.

    It went on for about 45 minutes. Sporadically. The thing that perplexis me is this. If the guys were shooting in their backyard which I had read in another report, why did the first 4 shots I heard sound as though they were next door? They were literally right outside and next door to my window. That location is about 1.5 miles south of where I reside.

    I think the APD needs to walk El Camino Real from the site which is south of where I am, North looking for spent shell casings. Have they done this? I don’t know. A friend from work called me early that morning after getting a reverse 911 call on her landline. It said to stay indoors. She asked me if I had received a call. I told her no, but that I would contact APD. I did, and asked about the reverse. I told the woman who answered what I had heard that morning. I however, did not receive a reverse 911.

    Shortly thereafter, the Property Manager called me to ask if I had heard anything about this as she had received a reverse at approximately 0600. I said I did not.

    To answer the questions from SamLouis and Jorge Estrada. Yes. This is the World in which we live.

    Where Goverment and man has become God based upon a myth. Therefore bringing upon itself the destruction of a once “God Blessed” Nation. [World].

    (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
  2. Messkit says:

    0330, and bus routes were diverted and/or shut down? At 0330? If the cops responded at 0330, arrests would have been made before 0400, and all parties would be back at the station by 0430. What school or school bus is running in the north county at 0430 in the morning? And why scare parents with an email, when the entire incident was cleared up by 0500?

    BTW, this wasn’t “target practice”. This was stupid people doing stupid things stupidly.

    (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
  3. Rambunctious says:

    Silencers and flash suppressors….

    (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  4. SamLouis says:

    Both of these individuals did something incredibly wrong/stupid. There’s no denying that. But the response was also ridiculous. Just another chance for law enforcement to play warrior and to justify the purchase of their military toys.

    (8) 26 Total Votes - 17 up - 9 down
    • Gordo says:

      I guess you would have just sent Barney Fife up the driveway alone to disarm them? Did the cops know who the shooters were or how many of them there were?
      We pay them to keep us safe and then people like you question the methods they use to keep themselves safe. I am sure that really makes them want to continue to go into harm’s way to protect people like you.

      (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
      • Messkit says:

        Yes, we should question the way they protect us, BECAUSE we pay them to do so.

        It’s Atascadero, not South Side Chicago, or Compton, or Queens, or Atlanta. Why do the police NEED an armored vehicle? Do they honestly expect RPG’s? .50 caliber fire? Do they actually run these vehicles right up to the house, or keep them back with all the soft skinned squad cars?

        Having witnessed far to much police firearms “training”, I can conclude that the local PD’s and Sheriff’s office members do NOT subscribe to a higher learning of firearms proficiency.

        So yes. I question the questionable methods used to protect me. I would rather do it myself, and be sure I get it right.

        When danger or death is moments away…the police are still minutes away.

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

      Target practice is at least loosely organized and shooting at targets. Random shots who knows….executions of a horde or Illegal aliens, menacing a dead body.

      The police response is totally reasonable and necessary based upon what could have been happening. No one knew at first right? Would you walk up to a door and ring the doorbell when it is likely that the people or person inside has a high powered riffle and has just finished shooting for who knows what reason? That is the purpose for a Special Enforcement Team to surveil the area, find out the who, what, when, and where. The armored vehicle simply provides protections so the men and women can go home in the event of a crazy person on anti depressants does not take them out.

      Lets not go crazy, we pay the Law Enforcement community to keep us safe and to respond to things like this. And it is our job to give them amazing tools. Sure everything could be used for evil in the even the Government turns on the citizens, but it will not be all about the armored vehicle that does the trick. A government takeover has to have a docile and unarmed citizenry.

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

    I forgot the other category, stupid news. These adults (tweekers?) target practicing at 3:30 in the morning within city limits need to have their fire arms confiscated, pay a large fine and pass a battery of tests before they are returned. They have put their judgement in question beyond they’re right to bear arms.

    (41) 43 Total Votes - 42 up - 1 down
    • choprzrul says:

      If these 2 had walked into a crowded theater and yelled “FIRE” thus getting people injured, should society permanently revoke their freedom of speech?

      If these 2 led a cult and convinced a bunch of people to hurt/kill themselves, should society permanently revoke their freedom of religion?

      If these 2 started a newspaper and published nothing but lies, should society permanently revoke their freedom of the press?

      (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
    • SandyK says:

      I bet these two will be back on the street in less then six months with access to firearms…

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down

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