Around 6:30 p.m. June 5, 13-year-old Tyler Rhodes yelled "car!" to stop game play as a red pickup truck came around the turn. His two brothers and some friends routinely cleared the street when the unfamiliar truck stopped in front of them and a passenger held a video camera out of the window. Tyler paused for a moment, trying to process the unusual scene. Then fear shot through his body as a male teen in a baseball cap and sunglasses, sitting in the rear cab, pointed what looked like a machine gun at him.
"It was the scariest moment in his life," said his mother, Robyn Rhodes. "He thought it was real. He said the guy just smiled at him."
As Tyler yelled at his brothers and friends to run into the house, several plastic pellets from an Airsoft gun flew through the air. But his brothers had already been hit: Conner, 9, in the stomach; and Justin, 11, just below the right eye.
As the truck sped off, one of the brothers chased it, knowing it would have to come out of the residential loop. He entered the license plate number in his cell phone and Robyn called 911.
"It was all chaotic," Rhodes said. "The police were out here and caught them. [The teens] all went to Amador."
According the a police report, the unnamed 17-year-old driver had picked up his friends Stanley (Ryan) Berckmoes, 18, who recorded the incident, and Nicholas Chiaradia, 18, the shooter, to film themselves skateboarding at a church.
Chiaradia told police he thought the gun was empty as he pulled the trigger, but shot three to four times and again when they drove away and saw one of the kids by himself. The other two teens said five to eight shots were fired.
While these toy guns aren't illegal in Pleasanton, shooting them violates the municipal code prohibiting the use of a firearm or projectile, unless in self defense. Guns, real or fake, or any weapon that "emits a projectile" are not allowed to be used, unless allowed in writing by the chief of police.
Chiaradia was given a notice to appear in court for violation of battery. The case was sent to the district attorney. Police did not return calls to update the status of the situation or say if the teens were to face any other punishment.
Rhodes said she hasn't been told how the teens would be punished. Since they were not on school property or on school time, the teens weren't barred from graduation ceremonies nor could they be suspended.
Surprised that this could happen in Pleasanton, Rhodes said she's concerned for other homeowners and parents in the Stoneridge neighborhood less than a mile from an elementary school. She said parents should think before allowing their children to have these toys.
"The guns can injure," she said. "I'm not trying to make more trouble; I just want people to be aware before they purchase these things for kids. I'm just hoping to have increased awareness."
Adding to the grief, Robyn also said that, besides a written apology by the shooter given to the police, she has yet to hear from the teens or their parents to check up on her children.
The whole incident was shocking, she said, especially in light of the Virginia Tech shootings. In what she suspects the teens did as a YouTube stunt for thrills, her children were traumatized.
"It's one thing to shoot at each other on private property. It's stupid," she said. "But it's another thing to go on a hunt for kids. They drove down the street and terrorized these kids for no reason."