PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) — A man who threatened to shoot the residents at a rehab facility and any deputies who responded was armed with a replica handgun.
The man was identified as Nicholas Benjamin Salisbury, 36 of Auburn, by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies say Salisbury had called 911 at around 1:30 a.m. on Sunday and told dispatchers he was going to shoot residents at the Harmony House, an inpatient rehab facility. He also threatened to shoot any deputies who responded. He also reportedly told dispatchers he was high on drugs at the time.
Investigators released a photo of the gun used in the incident, which was a replica handgun. The tip of the replica gun appears to be modified with black tape to cover the tip.
California law requires a “blaze orange ring” on the barrel of any “imitation firearm,” which is any device that looks substantially similar to an existing firearm. The ring is meant to make it easier for officers to identify whether or not someone is armed with a real gun or a replica gun.
Deputies ordered Salisbury to drop his weapon and instead raised the replica handgun toward them, prompting deputies to open fire as they believed he had a real firearm.
The incident is the second deadly officer-involved shooting involving a modified replica firearm in about a month. A SWAT team was called out in Sacramento after reports of a man pointing a gun at people in the area of Broadway and 16th Street. Hours after the initial reports, Darrell Richards was found by officers. Richards, armed with a modified pellet gun, pointed the weapon at officers who opened fire.
Both incidents occurred in the early morning hours when it was dark and difficult to distinguish whether or not the weapon was real. Without any kind of marking, officers were left to assume it was a real gun in both cases when they had to make the life-or-death decision.