Around 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, a citizen called police to report that four boys on Willow Avenue near The Grove Christian Church were passing around what appeared to be a pistol and pointing it at nearby cars, according to police.
Police said officers quickly found the boys on Willow Avenue and attempted to speak with them, prompting three of the juveniles to run away into the nearby Foxboro Downs neighborhood.
While an officer detained the boy who didn't flee, another officer located two of the other boys nearby. The fourth boy was later located at his home in Rodeo.
One of the boys led the officers to where the firearm was thrown.
Officers discovered that the weapon was a Crosman Airsoft pistol, a replica of a Beretta with its orange tip removed, police said. The brown gun is a similar model to what was used during Operation Desert Storm, according to Hercules police Sgt. Ruben Rodriguez.
"It looked very real," Rodriguez said.
The four boys, 12 and 13-year-old Hercules and Rodeo residents, were cited and released to their parents.
The case is being forwarded to the Contra Costa County Probation Department, Rodriguez said.
The boys' arrests come less than two months after 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot and killed by Sonoma County sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus in Santa Rosa while carrying a replica firearm.
The case has drawn national attention as well as numerous protests and rallies calling for murder charges against Gelhaus and restrictions on toy guns.