FBI investigating reports of Middle Eastern men firing hundreds of shots in Apple Valley

The FBI on Tuesday was continuing to question people after receiving reports from campers that a group of armed men in a remote part of Apple Valley fired hundreds of shots Sunday morning.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies and an FBI agent responded to the area known as Deep Creek Hot Springs after reports of gunshots and chanting in the predawn hours, officials said. According to law enforcement sources, 17 men of Middle Eastern descent were detained.

But none were arrested or charged in connection with shooting firearms and they cooperated with deputies, authorities said.

San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said the men were released after authorities found no evidence of a specific crime or outstanding warrants.

"None of the persons interviewed yesterday were identified as terrorists," she said.

One rifle did not have a serial number because it was bought in parts, Miller said. But it was deemed to be legal in California. She said the FBI may be conducting additional interviews with the men.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said agents are working with local authorities to determine if crimes were committed.

A caller to 911 reported hearing more than 100 shots fired and seeing several men wearing turbans in the area of the shooting. 

With the assistance of a sheriff’s helicopter, deputies located the men walking away from a creek carrying backpacks and other items.

A search found several handguns, a rifle and a shotgun, according to a sheriff’s statement.

“A records check of the subjects, their weapons, and their vehicles was completed," the statement said. "The records check revealed none of the subjects had a criminal history or outstanding warrants, the weapons were registered with the Department of Justice except for the rifle, and the vehicles were also registered.”

Sheriff’s investigators contacted several hikers, but none witnessed the guns being fired. “There was no evidence found that a crime had been committed by any of the subjects who were detained, and they were released,” the department said.

A photograph taken at the scene shows the men handcuffed as several deputies examine their backpacks and equipment.

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10:10 a.m.: Updated with FBI questioning people Tuesday.