San Joaquin County sheriff’s office said it was alerted at 6:30pm on Friday and responding officers detained five people at the scene.
They quickly dismissed the idea the incident was a ‘hate crime’ and just neighbours shooting ground squirrels. One of the rounds appears to have ricocheted in the direction of the temple.
Police said three men were cited for negligent discharge of a firearm and two handguns and three rifles confiscated.
Ground squirrels are native to California and have no protections, so they can legally be caught and killed. The University of California’s pest management programme describes them as “troublesome rodent pests for many home gardeners”.