A suspect is awaiting his day in court after reportedly using a fake firearm to carry out robberies in Madera.
According to Madera Police Det. Sgt. Johnnie Smith, officers were dispatched to the 3500 block of Manresa Drive on Tuesday evening after a suspect had robbed several people at gunpoint as they stood outside of their homes.
The suspect then reportedly drove off in a white BMW 328 sedan, taking with him their wallets, cell phones, and other belongings.
Madera police, according to Smith, were able to locate the suspect with the help of a tracking app on one of the victims’ stolen phones. Upon pulling the suspect’s vehicle over in a traffic stop, they found that the driver, Jorge Mendez, 19, had the stolen property in his possession, along with the weapon that he reportedly used, which was discovered to actually be a BB gun.
“Most of the stolen property was recovered,” said Smith. “And he was booked at Madera County Jail for robbery.”
This is not the first incident of its kind to happen this year. In May, a similar case occurred when three individuals, one of them being a minor, reportedly used an Airsoft gun, which is powered by gas or springs, and fires small, plastic BBs. The three suspects were said to have used this replica to steal beer from the Madera Mobil gas station on Gateway Drive, after which, they used the toy gun to mug a nearby pedestrian, reportedly striking him in the face with it.
Airsoft guns, which are typically used for recreational purposes, are often designed to look like actual firearms for the sake of realism, but come with a bright orange tip. These tips, however, can easily be painted over, and can be mistaken for live weapons.
According to a media report released by the Madera County Jail, Mendez was later released.
Madera County District Attorney David A. Linn has stated that his office is planning to file a complaint against Mendez.