Man Arrested for Impersonating Cop

An 18-year-old man walked onto the campus of San Marino High School last week flashing a fake police badge, wearing a replica handgun on his hip and confronting students, according to the San Marino Police Department.
Although he left without causing further alarm, Police Chief John Incontro cringes at the thought of what might have been.
“He had a Sig Sauer replica handgun,” Incontro said of the incident, which occurred at mid-morning on Feb. 3. “It was a pellet gun, but it looked just like the handgun. Identical. If he’d made contact with law enforcement or someone with a gun, it could have been a very different outcome.”
Kwannam Magnus Ho, 18, whom police said has a girlfriend at SMHS, was later arrested at his home in Monterey Park and booked on the misdemeanor offense of impersonating an officer and other offenses, police said.
The SMPD was aided by alert students who took a photo of the man and wrote down his vehicle’s license number.
“He was playing cop,” Incontro said. “He told some kids to get back to class. He inquired if they were using drugs. At one point, he moved so he could expose the holstered replica pistol. … This can be a very dangerous thing to do.”
Detective Sgt. Tim Tebbetts credited the SMHS students for providing essential information to responding officers. “We never want them to put themselves in harm’s way, but we’re glad they did what they did,” he said, because responding officers “were able to determine that this wasn’t a live shooter situation.”
Using the photo and license number provided by the students, police were able to find Ho shortly afterward at his residence in Monterey Park — in fact, Lt. Aaron Blondé arrived 10 minutes before Ho did.
“He was very apologetic,” Tebbetts said of the suspect. “He didn’t try to hide anything.”
The SMPD said that a search of Ho’s vehicle turned up a replica Sig Sauer handgun in the center console, a phony police badge and an FBI cap.
“His actions weren’t related to his girlfriend, but he told us he had been to campus several times to visit her,” Incontro said. “From everything we’ve heard, he’s a decent kid, but obviously he needs help.”
Dr. Alex Cherniss, superintendent for the San Marino Unified School District, said that the incident did not necessitate a revisiting of campus security. “I think that our security is really tight, with our security people and local law enforcement,” he said. “It’s just a student prank. It [the gun] was a toy. A kid made real bad judgment and will have to face consequences.”
A San Marino police officer is sometimes on campus at the high school. That was not the case this time, but Incontro said units responded within a couple of minutes of getting a call about the incident.
Anyone with further information about the case is asked to contact Tebbetts at (626) 300-0722. Anonymous tips may be given to Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477 or via text to 274637.

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