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Atwater mayor cited for shooting at squirrels near Castle airport

ATWATER, California - A man was relaxing near the Castle airport when he says a man drove by and fired off a rifle in his direction. But even more shocking, he says the man who pulled the trigger is the mayor of Atwater.

What started out as a quiet Thursday afternoon turned into a crazy day for man. 26 year old James Allen parked his car just outside Castle airport when all of a sudden he heard shots being fired from a moving truck. 

"Watch the planes take off in silence and just read my book," said Allen. "As you can imagine I got pretty scared and I bounced."

Allen says he even heard a bullet ricochet right past him. He then called police and snapped a photo after they arrived. Several cars surrounded the truck where the gun had been fired and inside the car was the mayor of Atwater, Jim Price. 

"To find out that it was the mayor shooting in the direction where people jog and have lunch and stuff like that, mind blown, like I could not believe it," stated Allen. 

According to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, Mayor Price owns a side business providing fuel services at the airport, and was allegedly shooting squirrels to keep them off the flight path. Problem is the sheriff says mayor Price doesn't have a permit to shoot wildlife or to fire a gun on a flight path.

"That is the dumbest thing a person could possibly do, shooting live rounds on a field."

The mayor was cited for both violations on scene; his .22 rifle taken away from him and ordered to give up his concealed carry permit, which was issued by the Atwater police chief.

A slap on the hand Allen says-- for behavior that put his life in jeopardy.

"He should definitely be held to a higher standard, honestly I was terrified."


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