The Santa Monica Police Department sized pieces of a fake gun in Chess Park this week after receiving reports of a man with a gun in the area.

According to SMPD, officers were called to the park at about 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 and made contact with a man matching the description given by callers. Officers identified the parts in his possession as a dismantled airsoft rifle that could not be fully reassembled into a working device.

“An airsoft gun often resembles a traditional firearm, but shoots non-lethal, plastic pellets,” said SMPD in a statement. “No other weapon or replica of a weapon was located. Contrary to rumor, there were no victims of criminal threats nor brandishing of this replica firearm. The male subject surrendered the parts of the airsoft to our officers.”

The .29 acre park is located at Ocean Front Walk at Seaside Terrace, directly behind Santa Monica’s Original Muscle Beach. It includes 14 large tables with four chess boards per table, 10 small tables with one chessboard per table and a large chessboard with large chess pieces set on the ground. It is open sunrise to sunset with the tables available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The park has long been a hotbed for homelessness and problematic behavior leading officials to propose closing the facility.

SMPD said the individual contacted this week did not meet the criteria for an involuntary psychiatric hold. They said the first violation of state law that prohibits the display of an imitation firearm in public is treated as an infraction and not punishable by imprisonment.

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...