By Angela Greenwood

ATWATER (CBS13) — A Merced County mayor has been stripped of his gun and cited for illegally firing it off at Castle Airport.

Investigators say Atwater Mayor Jim Price was shooting at squirrels from his truck on the active airfield while people were nearby, including one man who says a bullet came a little too close and called 911.

“It was just a crazy day,” said James Allen.

It started as a quiet Thursday afternoon. James Allen, 26, parked in his car just outside castle airport and was reading a book, when he heard the shot.

“I heard a pop and a snap go over my head.”

His peace and quiet was interrupted by gunshots fired from a moving truck.

“He was shooting in my direction,” he said.

Allen says he even heard a bullet ricochet right past him.

“As you can imagine, I got pretty scared, and I bounced.”

Allen then called the police, and shortly after, multiple Merced County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene and surrounded the truck where the shots were fired.

Inside was Mayor Jim Price.

“To find out that it was the mayor shooting in the direction where people jog and have lunch and stuff like that, mind-blowing; like I could not believe it,” said Allen.

According to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, Price owns a side business providing fuel services at the airport and was allegedly shooting squirrels to keep them off the flight path. The problem is, the sheriff says, Mayor Price doesn’t have a permit to shoot wildlife or to fire a gun on a flight path.

Allen said, “That is the dumbest thing a person could possibly do- shooting live rounds on an airfield.”

The mayor was cited for both violations on scene. His rifle was taken away and he was ordered to give up his concealed carry permit, which was issued by the Atwater police chief.

It’s a slap on the wrist, Allen says, for behavior that put his life in jeopardy.

“He should definitely be held to a higher standard. Honestly, I was terrified.”

CBS13 did reach out to Mayor Price, who declined to comment on the advice of his attorney.

Comments (19)
  1. A good day to fire the mayor.

  2. I Agree. The mayor needs to go. Lead by example…this is not an example of acceptable behavior.

  3. Samuel Green says:

    As a retired soldier, one who loves shooting, if this mayor did indeed actually shoot out of his moving vehicle, he should have been jailed.

    The people in this town need a better mayor, one that isn’t stuck on stupid.

  4. Richard Frey says:

    Somebody is wrong, “Shooting Ground Squirrels to keep them off the Flight Path”……only conclusion…..They must be Flying Squirrels????? A Gas Jockey doesn’t have the responsibility of Maintaining anything on an Airport!!!!

  5. I didn’t get the whole story.Somebody was shooting at the Mayor to keep him off the flight path?

  6. Think of it, the citizens of Merced elected this person…at least the 2% that bothered to show up and vote, nomesayin’, hommes?

  7. A nut case mayor and he had a concealed-carry permit? In California it’s obviously WHO you are (or know) not how responsible you are.

  8. No trees in the area, so must be ground squirrels.

  9. A mayoral moron. Even a .22 could cause a problem with a one million dollar aircraft.

  10. Greg Jordan says:

    Liberalism is a mental defect and should disqualify one for purchasing firearms.

  11. Well, it is California, and the mayor looks like a hippie!

  12. Seems more like this Allen character is an anti-gun nut and heard a gun and flaked out after seeing somebody with one. Who goes to a frigging airport to read a book?

    1. Somebody waiting for their flight? Also, some smaller airports sometimes function a bit as social centers, with restaurants, cafes, gas stations, picnic areas, etc on the property. I don’t know this airport, but many of them are multi-use.

    2. The mayor did not have the authority to shoot in that area. Next time he may be shooting squirrels by a school or his neighbors houses. Create a department in charge of animal control, and give them the authority when warranted.

  13. “I heard a pop and a snap go over my head.”
    Really? Anyone who has been shot at will call BS on that comment. If you hear that “crack” it is from a high-powered rifle round breaking the sound barrier and you do NOT hear the report from the rifle first…if at all.

  14. rytwinger says:

    Odd, the farticle failed to mention the mayor is a DEMOCRAT!

  15. An entire article with no mention of type of gun or caliber? That means the mayor had a pellet gun.

  16. Henry Bowman says:

    “Mayor Price doesn’t have a permit to shoot wildlife or to fire a gun on a flight path.”

    What is the number of the form required to apply for a permit to fire a gun on a flight path? I’d like to read it.

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