Marin County sheriff’s deputies arrested a Fairfield man on suspicion of possessing a replica AK-47 rifle near Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley that caused two schools to lock down Monday afternoon.
The suspect, Michael Kessler, 21, is a former Tamalpais High School student, according to the sheriff’s office. He was arrested around 7 p.m. Tuesday at 850 Drake Ave. in Marin City, and was booked into Marin County Jail at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
The arrest came after a witness, who was aware of the lockdown at the high school, encountered Kessler Monday in the Good Earth Natural Foods parking lot at 201 Flamingo Road in Tamalpais Valley Junction.
Kessler allegedly asked the unidentified witness why there was a large police presence in the area then pulled a mask over his face, sheriff’s officials said. The witness notified the Sheriff’s Office about the encounter on Tuesday.
A sheriff’s deputy on Monday had located a white vehicle in the Good Earth store parking lot. The deputy saw nothing suspicious, noted the vehicle and its license plate and determined it was a rental vehicle.
Detectives located the replica AK-47 Airsoft gun, which had electrical tape over the orange tip, in bushes near Kessler’s relative’s residence in Mill Valley, and he admitted using the Airsoft gun and mask to shoot a Snapchat video near Tamalpais High School, sheriff’s officials said.
Kessler admitted following the Sheriff’s Office’s social media pages during the large law enforcement response at the high school, which began around 1:50 p.m. Monday when someone reported seeing a man wearing black clothing and a mask and possibly carrying a rifle near parked vehicles behind the high school.
Sheriff’s officials said there is no reason to believe Kessler intended to commit an act of violence at the school, and he was aware of the fear his actions caused the public.
Kessler was arrested on suspicion of possession of a weapon near school grounds, destroying or concealing evidence, brandishing a replica firearm, unlawful display of an imitation firearm and changing the markings on an imitation firearm.