A San Diego police cruiser
A San Diego police cruiser. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego City Attorney’s Office has obtained a gun violence restraining order against a 52-year-old Rancho Peñasquitos man who made bizarre and threatening social media posts relating to COVID-19. Three unregistered shotguns were seized from the man’s home.

Multiple calls were made to the San Diego Police Department regarding the man’s conduct after he told family and friends about a plan to arm himself during the pandemic, claiming COVID-19 is a hoax to scare Americans into getting a vaccine that would allow them to be tracked by 5G towers.

“Stress from the COVID-19 public health crisis is exacerbating anxiety and mental health struggles for many,” City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said. “Thanks to public vigilance, police were able to safely intervene and remove firearms from someone who presented a danger to himself and others before he resorted to violence.”

 After trying to purchase ammunition and being denied due to a previous conviction, the man allegedly was enraged by what he believed was a “government plan” orchestrated by people who were targeting him. He was reported to have said, “I guess I’m going to have to take things into my own hands.”

When police and a mental health professional went to his home, the man appeared to exhibit psychotic and delusional behavior and was determined to be a danger to others. He stated that he needed to arm himself against Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the government.

In response to questions, the man was aggressive and confrontational, ranting, and fidgeting. At one point he said, “People are going to try and get me and I need to defend myself!” He was taken into custody for evaluation and placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

The man is on probation for a drunken-driving conviction and prohibited from owning firearms until 2025.