The grown men who are accused of firing air rifles at paraglide flyers along the Peninsula coast on Saturday claim they weren’t targeting them, police said Tuesday.
Alex Attard, 39, of Daly City, and Edward Amatori, 50, of San Francisco, both pleaded not guilty Monday to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with an incident at Mussel Rock State Park, San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.
According to police, three paraglide fliers – two men and a woman – were preparing to launch around noon Saturday when they heard about four to five shots.
No one was hit, but the paragliders said the shots seemed close and claimed one of the pellets caused nearby dirt to fly up, Daly City police Sgt. Michael Barton said Tuesday.
The paragliders called police. Of the five cops that initially responded, one works as a sniper for the police department’s SWAT team, Barton said.
Cops first questioned a man who was seen on the balcony of nearby homes at the time shots were fired. But he was not involved, police said.
“He was in the wrong place, wrong time,” Barton said.
The officers began searching the nearby hillside. They found Attard and Amatori in the bushes, Barton said. They were arrested and their pellet guns were confiscated.
“They said they were not intending to shoot at any people,” the sergeant said.
But the men wouldn’t tell police what they were doing on the bluffs with the pellet rifles, he added.
Attard and Amatori were located about 200 yards from the paragliders, according to police.
They were booked into San Mateo County Jail, police said.
On Monday, their bail was set at $25,000, Guidotti said. A preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 23 in a South San Francisco courtroom, she said.
According to a Bay Area gun expert, a pellet from .22-caliber air rifle could pierce the skin. However, the “effective range” of this caliber of gun is about 45-50 yards, depending on the pellet, according to Airgun Depot, a BB and pellet gun retailer.
From close range the .22 has “tremendous knock down power,” the company said.