Riverbank man faces misdemeanor charge after pellet gun brandished at children

The man accused of brandishing a pellet gun at students, triggering a lockdown at a Riverbank school last week, is facing a misdemeanor charge.

Calvin Tolbert, 49, of Riverbank was arraigned Thursday on a charge of exhibiting an imitation firearm in a threatening manner. He appeared for a pretrial hearing Monday in Stanislaus Superior Court. His next court date is Nov. 12.

California Avenue Elementary School went into lockdown last week on a report of a man with a gun outside the school. Sheriff’s deputies and other emergency units responded to the school, and deputies went to a home where Tolbert lives on the south side of the campus.

Authorities learned that schoolchildren had kicked a ball over the school fence, striking a barred window on the home. Students said Tolbert came out of the house, holding what appeared to be a handgun, and threatened to shoot the children if more balls came onto the property. The children ran to tell school staff what had happened.

Deputies found a handgun-style pellet gun inside the home. Tolbert, who cooperated with deputies, was arrested and booked in jail. Bail was set at $50,000. He was released Friday afternoon after posting bail.

Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said Tolbert was charged with one misdemeanor count because the facts did not support a felony charge. If convicted, Tolbert could be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail.

Parents said the lockdown was a scary incident for the 550 students at California Avenue Elementary. Deputies carrying rifles descended on the campus, and measures designed to safeguard students were put into action. Two students were taken away in ambulances for anxiety.

Stephanie Vasquez of Riverbank said her daughter and a niece were about 15 feet away from Tolbert when he was yelling at the students.

“My daughter did not want to go back to school,” Vasquez said Monday. “If he had issues, he should have driven to the office to complain. He needs to find somewhere to move that is not near a school.”

Tolbert could not be reached for comment Monday. A secretary with the Public Defender’s Office said she had no record of which attorney was assigned to the case.

According to a former school employee and a comment on The Modesto Bee’s Facebook page, Tolbert previously had complained about school activities and yelled at children through the chain-link fence.

Daryl Camp, superintendent of Riverbank Unified School District, said a debriefing was held Thursday with school staff and first responders to discuss last week’s incident.

At this point, the school district is not taking further action. Camp said he would talk with law enforcement and the school district’s attorney if there are more problems with Tolbert.

“I was really proud of the way students and staff reacted,” Camp said. “Once they recognized there was an issue, the staff acted in the appropriate manner to ensure the safety of the kids.”