Gilberto Masias, 29, says he was wearing the gas mask and camouflage jacket with an inert hand grenade attached because he was on his way to work at a store that sells Halloween costumes. But his outfit alarmed so many people as he drove through downtown San Mateo that police were called.
"At my work, we're supposed to be wearing costumes, you know, to greet customers," Masias said. "And this was the costume I was going to be wearing."
A half block of downtown was cleared while the bomb squad determined the grenade was inert. Police confiscated it anyway and cited Masias for possession of dummy grenade before releasing him.
The manager at Diddams Party & Toy Store confirms Masias was supposed to be in costume for work but says he used poor judgment.
"He just had poor judgment in wearing it as he was driving," Elaine Koloamatang said. "But it's pretty funny he got pulled over for it... They were probably freaking out. I would."
Masias was supposed to be in costume while he stood outside the store waving a sign to lure people inside.
"I knew it was going to attract people's attention, but I didn't think they were going to go as far as to be worried and call 911," he said.
San Mateo police warn people to thoughtful when choosing Halloween costumes because imitation weapons can be very realistic and it can be hard for police and the public to know whether they are fake or real.