Huge police response after reports of shots fired & victims possibly down in Banning hills

BANNING — Reports of a possible active shooter with potential victims down in the rugged Banning hills, west of Hwy 243 and south of Interstate 10, led to a massive police and medical response, yesterday afternoon, Sunday, Aug 11.

Although the victims have alleged that a person began firing upon their group of seven people as they rode through the area, causing one of their off-road vehicles to crash, sheriff’s officials have since reported that although their investigation is continuing, the incident is not being investigated as an active shooter and that nobody was injured by the reported gunfire.

“The reports was there was an active shooter,” officials have since told RCNS. “We do not know where those started, but we did not have a situation like that.”


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Yesterday’s incident began after seven people riding two side-by-side UTV’s, a quad, and a motorcycle were enjoying the rugged dirt trails in the area of Poppet Flats Rd. and Cryer Dr., when they began hearing what they believed was gunfire.

Although three of the group of seven made it to safety, four others including three who had been riding a side-by-side UTV and a fourth who had been riding a quad did not make it out of the area and could not be immediately located.

At least two armored rescue vehicles were brought to the scene after shots were reportedly fired at a group of seven riding off-road vehicles in the area of Poppet Flats in the Anza Valley. NVNCBL TV photo

At around 2:30 p.m., after receiving the initial reports of a possible active shooter in the area with potential victims down and unaccounted for, countless law enforcement officers as well as SWAT members in armored rescue vehicles and helicopters, soon began arriving in the area.

Medical personnel, along with Cal Fire’s Helitender 301 were staged at the nearby Silent Valley Club; where numerous official vehicles could be seen, along with a command center that was established to coordinate all the incoming law enforcement officials and medical personnel.

As the investigation was getting underway and officials were still arriving in the area, two of the reported victims, neither of whom have been publicly identified, were interviewed at the scene by NVNCBL TV. (See video below.)

One of the victims reported that after hearing the initial gunfire, his group began racing down the hills and out of the area to safety.

He said that as they fled they could still hear gunshots. In video shot by one of the members of the group as they fled, which was later shared by NVNCBL TV and can be viewed below,  you can hear the terror in their voices and what sounds like possible gunshots being fired.

After regrouping, the seven decided what they were hearing were possible “warning shots” and they decided to head back to the main roadway.

“So we re-grouped and turned around,” and started heading back the direction they had just fled from, the victim told NVNCBL TV, while anxiously waiting to hear the fate of their friends and waiting for more information in the staging area established at Silent Valley Club.

“Twenty seconds into where we’re on the street, we hear him. He lit us up,” the unidentified victim continued.

“You know, he lit us up,” the victim emphasized.

As the group once again fled in terror, the interviewed man said he began seeing rounds striking the ground around their fleeing vehicles and said he could hear bullets “zinging” past his head.

Rather than stop again, the victim said the group continued racing from the area and were not going to stop until they could find a safe place to regroup once again.

Heavily armed SWAT members head into the area where shots were reportedly fired at a group of off-roaders. NVNCBL TV photo

“We got to our safe spot,” the man then continued, saying that although at least one other person from their group made it out of the area safely with him and another man, the other four were nowhere to be found.

“The other guys didn’t come out. The other guys are stuck in there,” the man reported before the remainder of his party was located and rescued from the area.

“One guy left the quad and I believe he was hiding,” the man continued. “That guy seen the guy out there with a rifle on top of the hill.”

The victim then reported that he had just learned that one of the other UTV’s had crashed down a ravine while fleeing the area and gunfire.

“They wrecked and they’re injured, and I guess the (man with the rifle) was looking for them out there,” explained the man; saying “SWAT’s on their way down there.”

Video shot at the scene by NVNCBL TV showed heavy police activity throughout the area, including the arrival of at least two armored rescue vehicles.

Another of the three victims who initially made it to safety later described to NVNCBL TV hearing rapid gunfire during the incident and said each time the alleged shooter ran out of ammunition he reloaded and opened fire on them again.

“He was full of ammo, man. This guy, he wasn’t joking around,” the second victim described. “He was trying to kill someone.”

Video filmed at the scene by NVNCBL TV showed a side-by-side UTV down a steep and inaccessible ravine and later showed Cal Fire’s Copter 301 performing a technical hoist rescue of one of the injured victims, who was then transported to an area hospital with unspecified injuries.

A man injured after crashing in an off-road vehicle is airlifted from the scene. He was later transported to an area hospital with unspecified, but non-gunshot related injuries. NVNCBL TV photo

Although the NVNCBL TV video reported two people were arrested in connection with the shooting, when contacted for information and details about the incident, Riverside County Sheriff’s Media Information Bureau told RCNS in an email response that no arrests had been made related to the incident.

“We received a call for service about shots being fired in the area of Poppets Flats and (Cryer) Dr.,” the Department’s MIB told RCNS. “We responded to the belief there might have been gunfire in the area.”

“The investigation ensued and we did not locate anyone with injury due to gunfire,” MIB continued. “There were no arrests made and the investigation revealed there was a male shooting from and on his private property, but no one was injured from gunfire.”

“During the incident, one of the reporting parties was in a collision of his off-road vehicle,” explained MIB. “This caused (an) injury and the man was aided with a rescue from a ravine.”

Regarding the initial reports of an active shooter or someone shooting at the group of seven, MIB said, “The reports were not true, although the incident is still being investigated.”

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

If you were directly involved in this incident, RCNS would like to interview you for further details about the reported shooting.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

NVNCBL TV photos and video


Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.