Golfers Say Deputy Drew Gun
An Orange County sheriff’s reserve deputy was arrested after a weekend golf outing in Chino Hills when he allegedly flashed his badge and pulled a gun on a group of golfers.
The reserve deputy, Sheriff Michael S. Carona’s personal martial arts instructor, allegedly made a death threat during a confrontation that began on the 13th hole of the North Course at Los Serranos Golf & Country Club.
The arrest is the latest embarrassment for the reserve program. Scores of reserves, including some of Carona’s political allies, were removed from the state’s peace officer database after it was learned that they were appointed without background checks. Under a tentative agreement with state officials, the Sheriff’s Department is working to reinstate them.
Raymond K. Yi, 44, was arrested Monday -- the day after the incident -- by San Bernardino sheriff’s deputies on suspicion of brandishing a firearm, a misdemeanor. Yi was released the same day.
Robin Haynal, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, said officials received a call at 11:25 a.m. Sunday that a man at the golf course had pulled a gun on a foursome after a verbal dispute over slow play.
Yi was sworn in as an Orange County reserve deputy in May 2002, referred by Carona. He had been issued a permit to carry a concealed weapon a year earlier, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
Yi, who operates two tae kwon do studios in Orange County, declined to talk about the incident until he speaks to his attorney. He said he has been Carona’s instructor for the last seven or eight years.
Michael Schroeder, a lawyer and spokesman for Carona, said that under department policy, any officer who is arrested is subject to an internal review.
The dispute began after Yi’s ball landed near the foursome playing ahead of him for the second time, the golfers said. The foursome consisted of three brothers and their uncle.
Marcelo Bautista, 36, a math teacher at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa, and Javier Bautista, 35, an engineer for the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District, said the second shot nearly struck Marcelo Bautista. He then hit Yi’s ball off the fairway.
The reserve officer, in a cart with a golfer from his own group, rode up and asked who hit his ball, the brothers said. After Marcelo Bautista told him that he had, he said Yi asked for his name. Javier Bautista said his brother ignored him.
“He [Yi] said, ‘Wait here. I’ll be back,’ ” Javier Bautista said.
They said they figured Yi was going to get the course marshal and played on. On the 14th hole, they said Yi returned, flashed his badge and said, “ ‘Do you know who I am?’ ”
The brothers said Yi then ordered them to retrieve his ball. Instead, Marcelo Bautista said he tossed him one from his bag, and told him he wasn’t going to get his ball.
“The guy became irate. He went into a rage, yelling at him, cursing, saying, ‘You better go get my ball,’ ” Javier Bautista said.
When Marcelo Bautista and his uncle got into their cart and began driving away, Yi pulled his gun and yelled, “ ‘Freeze’ ” and “ ‘I will kill you,’ ” Javier Bautista said.
“It was a scary feeling,” Marcelo Bautista said. “He was acting so erratic and odd ... it was like he was in a road rage. His behavior was completely out of line.”
Javier Bautista said he and one of his brothers -- and golfers from Yi’s group -- quieted the reserve deputy, who they said finally threw down his gun and badge.
But then, they said, he started making threats, boasting he “could have 500 officers at the scene in minutes.”
A short time later, the dispute started up again.
The brothers said Yi followed Marcelo Bautista and, when his 61-year-old uncle got in the way, he shoved him and pulled his gun again.
“My uncle said, ‘You look like an educated man, just relax,’ ” Javier Bautista said. “He cocked his gun and said, ‘I will kill you.’ ”
The brothers said they hurried off the course and reported the incident to the pro shop manager. He, in turn, summoned authorities, who were given the license plate number of the car Yi left in.
Yi agreed to come to the San Bernardino sheriff’s station the next day, when he was arrested.
Times staff writer Hector Becerra contributed to this report.