Paintball Gun Mistaken for an Assault Rifle at a Midland Church

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- The neighborhood around St. Mark's United Methodist Church was sent into a panic on Sunday night. Officers were told a man brought an assault riffle inside the Church.

Those who live right next to the Church were told to evacuate their homes and those nearby were instructed to stay inside and lock their doors.

Toni Romero lives directly across the street. She says, "We were thinking the worst. My mom started freaking out. She was crying. She was scared. She didn't know what was going on. She didn't want anyone to come and hurt us and there were a bunch of us."

Police were told a man with an assault rifle had entered the church. The scene was immediately treated as a hostage situation.

At least two dozen police cars surrounded the streets around the church, blocking people from coming close.

Romero says, "There was a barricade. All the streets coming towards the church [were blocked] and there were more cops at the storage house on the end."

However, what was thought to be an assault rifle, turned out to be a paintball gun.

Police say a teen in a Church youth group brought the paintball gun inside to show his friends.  NewsWest 9 talked to the boy and his youth group leader. They say they had no idea a concerned citizen outside the Church called the police on them. The boy is extremely apologetic for causing such a scene. He says he'd been meaning to get a case for the paintball gun, but he just hasn't gotten around to it.

Police say they treated the scene as a high-priority situation as per standard protocol.