(Pellet) rifleman prompts five Escondido school lockdowns before his surrender

Browning Leverage .177 Air Gun Combo Pellet Rifle sold at Wal-Mart.

Five Escondido schools in several neighborhoods were locked down Tuesday when a man carrying what turned out to be a pellet rifle was spotted in their vicinity.

The first report of a man with a rifle came in around 11:30 a.m., according to Escondido police Lt. Al Owens. An Escondido parks employe said the man sat in a black BMW pointing the gun at nearby L.R. Green School on Las Palmas Avenue.

Officers scoured the area in, and around, Kit Carson Park armed with the suspect’s vehicle license number written down by the witness, to no avail. This school wasn’t locked down.

Another rifleman report came through a 911 call about 1 p.m. The caller said a man appeared to have fired a rifle toward a home, and blew out a window, in the 2200 block of Conway Street. The home’s resident ran out, confronted the man and photographed him and pellet gun, according to police. The alleged rifleman fled the scene.

Conway, North Broadway, Reidy Creek and Rincon elementary schools along with Calvin Christian High School were locked down at that point as officers searched nearby neighborhoods.

Shortly before 2 p.m., the lone gunman himself contacted police saying he was the person for whom they were searching. He said he had been carrying around an airsoft-style CO2-powered pellet rifle, Owens said. Those are the types of guns commonly deployed at paintball parks.

Police later identified the man as Escondido resident Robert Beltran, 50. He agreed to go to Escondido police headquarters to be interviewed. Police arrested him around 2:30 p.m., booking him into Vista Jail on suspicion of negligently discharging a firearm.  He also may face vandalism charges, police said.

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