Police arrest man who was allegedly waving, shooting pellet gun at SLO lake park

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Laguna Lake Park was closed to the public Tuesday afternoon while police responded to reports of a man waving a gun.

According to a San Luis Obispo Police Department social media post, the park closed at 5:25 p.m. due to the police activity, but circumstances of the incident were initially unclear.

Police asked the public to avoid the area.

Later Tuesday evening, police released further details of the incident.

According to a news release, “an alert community member” notified the department of an adult male waving what appeared to be a firearm in the park near the boat ramp.

Officers responded to the park, located the man and set up observation and containment at a safe distance around him, according to the release.

At that time, officers could see him holding what appeared to be a firearm in his hand, the release said.

People in the park were evacuated to a nearby parking lot on Madonna Road.

Officers then contacted the unhoused male, identified as James Michael Taylor, 40. Police said he was cooperative and taken into custody without incident.

Dan Berkeland, cross country head coach at San Luis Obispo High School, told The Tribune that while he and the team were running in the park Tuesday afternoon, somebody pointed out a “guy on a bench” nearby.

“They said he was waving around a gun,” Berkeland said.

Berkeland said the guy continued to sit on a bench until law enforcement arrived and cleared the park.

Laguna Lake Park was closed to the public June 25, 2024, because of police activity in the area.
Laguna Lake Park was closed to the public June 25, 2024, because of police activity in the area.

A search of Taylor and his belongings revealed he had a pellet gun that resembled a handgun, a stun gun and a throwing star, police said.

The investigation revealed that Taylor had also been shooting the pellet gun within the park, the release said.

Taylor was arrested and booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on suspicion of charges of possession of a throwing star, a convicted felon in possession of a stun gun and discharge of a dangerous weapon.

The San Luis Obispo Police Department, San Luis Obispo City Fire Department and San Luis Ambulance all responded to the park Tuesday afternoon.

A SWAT vehicle also responded, though as of about 6:15 p.m. it had left the scene.