Authorities made a startling discovery at a Santa Ana park on Monday, where a man had been living in a storage room with a loaded handgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and a vest filled holding loaded magazines.
The president of a local youth softball league, along with a coach, were getting ready for a practice at Carl Thornton Park when they went into a small storage room near a baseball field.
There they encountered Ruben Perez, 37, who had apparently broken into the storage room and started living there, according to Santa Ana police. Some people who go to the park regularly said they had seen him there for about four or five days.
According to police, when the president of the league and the coach confronted Perez, told him he wasn’t allowed to be there, Perez reportedly threatened to get his “strap.”
They called police, who arrived and found Perez was in possession of a stolen .45-caliber handgun and about 600 rounds ammunition. Perez allegedly had 18 loaded magazines, including one that held 31 rounds, according to a police news release. A weight vest police found had weights removed and replaced with magazines.
Police said Perez is a felon, and cannot legally possess the weapon, and they also believe he had stolen the items.
“We don’t know what his intent was, but obviously for us, it’s concerning that he was living inside a park where we have lots of kids, lots of sports activities going on as well as people trying to enjoy the park,” said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna with the Santa Ana Police Department.
“If one of those girls would’ve grabbed their equipment out of that room, he could’ve held them hostage,” Santa Ana resident Marina Sorensen said. “Oh, the thought of it now. It’s horrible.”
Perez was booked on suspicion of a number of counts including being a felon in possession of a firearm.